Exploitation of natural resources and environmental management at the district level: a case study of Mpohor Wassa East District, Ghana

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The relationship between development and the environment hitherto unappreciated, is increasingly being realised all over the world. Natural resources are seen as the sound basis upon which development is to take place. Their exploitation over the years, however, has led to the degradation of the environment, threatening the sustainability of development. In Ghana, one of the measures adapted to address environmental problems is the creation of the District Assemblies. They are to promote development with regard to environmental and ecological concerns. The extent to which they can handle these responsibilities is however questionable. In this study, the environmental responsibilities of the Mpohor Wassa East District Assembly were identified. Its capacity to perform them was assessed and problems inhibiting the smooth performance of its functions were outlined. The role of other’ institutions at the national, regional and district levels in the extent -and manner in which they relate with the District Assembly was evaluated. It was realized that the District Assembly, according to the Decentralization Law, is to manage the environment by co-ordinating the activities of the relevant institutions. Its structural Organisation, however, was not tailored to the performance of these responsibilities. There is no unit or committee in the District Assembly responsible for environmental management. The District Assembly could not even co-ordinate thern activities of its decentralised institutions. The latter maintain very strong vertical relations with their parent organisations at the national level. The communities look upon the District Assembly for protecting the environment. Against this background, the environment, especially the forest is under continuous attack from loggers, miners and farmers. It was recommended that the District Assembly should be the centre of environmental management at the local level. The strengthening of its capacity to perform the co-ordination function and control of natural resources are emphasised for the achievement of environmentally sound district development.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Development and Management, 1992