The Water Resources Commission (WRC) on Wednesday launched a national policy document on Riparian Buffer Zone Protection for managing freshwater bodies in the country.
The policy was designed as a harmonised document of all the dormant and fragmented regulations in the country concerning buffers bordering water bodies or river systems.
It was also aimed at providing comprehensive measures and actions that would guide the creation of vegetative buffers for the preservation and functioning of the nation’s water bodies and vital ecosystems.
According to the document, recommended buffer widths for water bodies are municipal reservoir shoreline protective areas such as Weija Dam and Lake Bosomtwe covering 60 to 90 metres; major perennial rivers/streams such as the Volta, Offin and Tano , 10 to 60 metres and streams within forest reserves, 10 to 50 metres.
Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing in a speech read on his behalf said a visit to the banks of rivers and streams in most parts of the country reveal instances and evidence of abuse of water resources.
The Minister said: “Our actions and inactions have contributed to the degraded lands, resulting in the perennial dying of rivers and streams throughout the country.
He said: “We need new approaches in terms of policy, investment and governance that can help better manage water in an inclusive way, now and in the future, to ensure the sustenance of life.”
Alhaji Dauda said in recent years, the use of natural buffer zones to protect freshwater bodies from degradation and pollution had attracted considerable interest worldwide including Ghana.
He noted that in Ghana, technically driven initiatives had helped accelerate an interactive process for “solutions” that had culminated in the Riparian Buffer Zone Policy document, regarded as an additional major output and working tool for the management of the nation’s water resources.
Alhaji Dauda said the obvious challenging task is how to make the outlined policy decisions practically workable especially within the national and district levels.
He said the riparian buffer requires a uniform and effective system of protection, which requires strong institutional coordination and collaboration.
“It is time for…stakeholders to ensure that we are guided by the policy in our activities. We should not let the policy gather dust with a business-as-usual approach.”
Mr Ben Ampomah, Acting Executive Secretary of WRC said it took the nation 10 years to put together this policy document.
He paid tribute to agencies and institutions such was the Forestry Commission, Environmental Protection Agency, the Water Research Institute, the Centre for African Wetlands and International Water Management Institute, for the various roles they played towards the formulation of the document.
He announced that the policy had been adopted by the government for implementation, and would soon be backed by legislation.
Nana Agyewodin Adu-Gyamfi Ampem, Board Chairman of WRC urged the media to help disseminate the new policy and to educate the populace on water resources conservation. GNA