Friday, 23 June 2017

How Public Private Partnerships Can Create Jobs Restoring Degraded Land For Unemployed Galamseyers

One of the arguments often made by small-scale miners against banning small-scale gold mining in Ghana, is that they create jobs in rural Ghana.

It is an argument we must reject - because if we continue to tolerate an industry jam-packed with selfish and dishonest  bribe-givers, who corrupt officials of the regulatory bodies that  oversee gold mining in Ghana, we will wake up one day to discover that all our streams, rivers and ground water sources have been poisoned by heavy metals and toxic chemicals.

As things now stand, we can actually provide jobs immediately, for cooperatives made up of  young people currently employed by registered small-scale gold miners and the promoters of galamsey mining operations across Ghana - in land restoration initiatives led by private-sector entities such as A Rocha, Friends of Rivers and Water Bodies, and other entities that do landscaping in Ghana.

We urge our nation's leaders  to hold talks with the wealthy oil producing nations that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), all of which have massive carbon footprints, to fund a low-carbon development agro-forestry tree-planting initiative  in Ghana to neutralise some of their collective carbon footprint.

It is said that nothing ventured nothing gained. As a people with imagination let us explore this green economy possibility now. It could change the fortunes of rural Ghana overnight. Literally.

To inspire our nation's current leaders, who have shown by deeds, not words, that they are determined to preserve what is left of our nation's natural heritage, this blog is posting a culled Guardian.com article written by Kathy Watson, who is head of programme development at the World Agroforestry Centre - that was first published and posted on Agroforestry World - about the inspiring story of a land restoration project in Tigray, Ethiopia, which has stopped the migration of young people there to urban areas in Ethiopia and is providing wealth and jobs for local people in Tigray.

Please read on:

"Land restoration in Ethiopia: 'This place was abandoned ... This is incredible to me'

By Kathy Watson

Wednesday 21 June 2017 10.30 BST
Last modified on Wednesday 21 June 2017 10.31 BST

Ethiopia is suffering from severe drought, but there is water in Gergera. 20 years of restoring its hills and river valley has brought life back to this area of the Tigray region in the country’s far north.

The work has been painstaking, complex and multidimensional and continues to this day. But the hard-won results offer up two key lessons. We know now that landscape restoration in drylands hinges on water management. And we know, just as importantly, that restoration can create a base for better livelihoods and jobs for youth who formerly left in droves.

Government ministers visited the revitalised watershed on 31 May 2017 after signing a memo of understanding to establish a National Agroforestry Platform to support climate-resilient green growth and transformation. Over 40 prominent figures attended, including ministers of state Kaba Urgesa and Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes, Wubalem Tadesse of the Ethiopian Environment and Forest Research Institute, Fassil Kebede, adviser to the minister of agriculture, and Eleni Gabre Madhin, founder of Ethiopia’s commodity exchange and representatives of embassies, development agencies, and civil society groups such as Oxfam, Farm Africa, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, and Packard.

    I know this place. It was abandoned and untouched. This is very incredible to me
    Eyasu Abraha, Ethiopia’s minister of agriculture and natural resources

Gergera watershed covers 1382 hectares in the kebele (Ethiopia’s smallest administrative unit) of Hayelom in Atsbi-Wonberta district in the eastern zone of Tigray. The visit began at the head of the valley where community leaders had gathered. Alighting and looking around, Ethiopia’s minister of agriculture and natural resources Eyasu Abraha was visibly moved. “I know this place. It was abandoned and untouched. This is very incredible to me,” he said.

The group stood under tall trees, bathed by bird song, with luscious grasses and pools of clean water at their feet. So that it can regenerate, this part of Gergera has long been closed to cattle. “The first thing you notice is the change of vegetation,” said World Agroforestry Centre’s director general Tony Simons, pointing out a Sclerocarya birrea, the Marula tree which has a nutritious plum-like fruit with a kernel with oil prized for cosmetics by firms such as the Body Shop.
Arid land to a fertile Eden: permaculture lessons from Portugal
Read more

By consent of the community, only cutting and carrying grass to livestock and beekeeping are permissible in this upper catchment. Indeed, the wooded hillsides are rife with carefully placed hives. Gabions (mesh cages filled with rocks) built by members of the community slow the rain water when it courses down the chasm, which, formerly too deep to cross, is gradually filling as earth builds up behind the structures. Critically, this earth now retains rainwater, which seeps into the ground and emerges as groundwater in the valley where 1,000 hectares of land are now under small scale irrigation. Meanwhile, more tree cover on the hills means that when surface water does reach the valley, it does so with less destructive velocity.

It was not always like this. Landscape degradation in Ethiopia is centuries old. A painting from 1951 in Ethiopia’s National Museum shows erosion devouring arable land. “During the period of the Emperor and the Derg, degradation was so severe that once we were forced to dismantle a church at risk of being swept away!” said elder Khasay Gebreselaasie, referring to the regime which ruled from 1974 for 17 years. But the fall of the Derg brought a groundswell of activity to address agricultural productivity in an area once struck by famine.
A painting from 1951 in Ethiopia’s National Museum shows erosion devouring arable land.
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
A painting from 1951 in Ethiopia’s National Museum shows erosion devouring arable land. Photograph: Cathy Watson/ICRAF

“The people took the initiative to rehabilitate the environment,” explained the administrator of Hayelom, Habtom Woreta. “That is when Irish Aid came in and we became a model watershed for the region and the world. You can see how the area is transformed! Biodiversity has increased and we have hand dug wells at 1m deep because of recharge. And none of this is in vain. Now we have TVs in the houses. Before we slept on mats, now we have beds.”

Once a hot spot for the perilous out migration of youth, even that has changed. When Irish Aid representative Aileen O’Donovan asked “about job creation for the youth, who are motivated but restless”, Kebele leader Tsuruy proudly said. “We have 1,070 youngsters, of whom 506 are employed due to restoration”.

“This is music to my ears,” said Abraha, the minister of agriculture, whose government recently completed a rural job opportunity strategy.

Down in the valley, young men were building gabions to deflect a gully away from the fields that would be destroyed if the water flowed unchecked after the rains. They are paid under Ethiopia’s cash transfer scheme, the Productive Safety Net Programme, to which the UK contributes over £50m a year. They also donate 40 days of their time for free, both as a social obligation and in anticipation of receiving reclaimed land from the state. Asked why they were doing this, they shouted, “to earn daily bread and stop the loss of land. The land was going!”
'No one leaves any more': Ethiopia's restored drylands offer new hope
Read more

There were more young men as well as women at the rural resource centre, a former government nursery now supported by the World Agroforestry Centre, which guides the restoration. They earn their living selling trees, particularly avocado, and 13 fodder grass species. They currently have tree seedlings and vegetable plantlets for sale worth altogether $11,523 as well as $10,000 saved in the bank.

As the trip wrapped up, the community served bread and honey from the recovering hills. State minister for livestock and fisheries Gebregziabher Gebreyohannes said “what has been seen today is job creation” and “cash transfers improving the lives of the poor”. And Kiros Hagdu, who leads the World Agroforestry Centre in Ethiopia, said his centre was committed to evidence-based restoration of farms and landscapes with the government and communities and that now was “the time to scale-up the successes nationally”.

The minister of agriculture had the last word. “Agroforestry is becoming the heart and the mind of the government,” said Abraha. “What we see here is really the beginning of transformation. All those youngsters who wanted to migrate will have productive land.”

This blogpost was first published on Agroforestry World. Cathy Watson is head of program development at the World Agroforestry Centre.

Join our community of development professionals and humanitarians. Follow @GuardianGDP on Twitter.

© 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Post a Comment