MESSAGE FROM THE PEOPLES’ LIBERATION COUNCIL OF WESTERN TOGOLAND TO MARK WORLD WETLAND DAY 2ND FEBRUARY 2021
Fellow Citizens of Western Togoland, Tuesday, 2nd of February, marks the signing of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971. The Peoples Liberation Council of Western wishes to join world bodies to raise global awareness about the high importance of wetlands for people and our planet. As the saying goes, charity begins at home, so we deem it very appropriate to call to your attention the enormous responsibility that nature has placed on Western Togolanders to conserve their wetlands for the benefit of life on earth.
Freshwater crisis are rising and threatening people and our planet. We use more freshwater than nature can replenish, but we are destroying Wetlands, the ecosystem on which water and all life depend most.
Wetlands are a source of freshwater and we must encourage actions to restore them and stop their loss.
We have coastal wetlands such as the Keta Ramsar sites and inland wetlands along the basins of rivers like Volta, Alabo, Tordze, Dayi, Nsukorkor, Oti and many other. We have Highland wetlands in the mountainous regions along the Togo Atakora Ranges, the Gambaga Scarp, and we have wetlands in all lowland districts including Yendi, Gushiegu, Garu, Krachi and Tongu.
The theme for 2021 campaign – “Wetlands and water”, highlights the contribution of wetlands to the quantity and quality of freshwater on our planet. inseparable co-existence of water and wetlands is vital to life, our wellbeing and the health of our planet.
The Peoples Liberation Council (PLC) of Western Togoland is therefore appealing to all citizens and all authorities working in Western Togoland to identify all the wetlands and let us collaboratively manage them for the wellbeing of people and the planet Earth as a whole.
The theme for WWD 2021 is Wetlands and water”, therefore the message for you in the year 2021 is to search your community for water. Please listen to the definition of wetland below to guide you to know what to look for
The Ramsar Convention describes wetlands as “areas of marsh, fen, peat land or Water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporal, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or slat, including areas of marine water, the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres” (Ramsar Convention, 1971).
Our land and territory is much endowed with wetlands from the coast to the savannah. Here, we will try to list some of them for your reflection. Indeed searching your community means prepare yourself to manage wetlands in your community for wealth. Indeed, this is just a big reminder that you can do it better because our journey through the land has shown that you are doing this tremendously in your own small ways. This is why we see great many of you in the land as:
1. Rice farmers and many rice meals are finding abode in the land, for now we can count five; We can produce rice to feed the whole of ECOWAS sub region;
2. Fishermen, and several fish farmers are finding destination in the land; Our fishermen from the coast to the savannah can feed the ECOWAS sub region;
3. Cattle and other animal Rangers. Our land is by far one of the richest zones for grazing and therefore not a coincidence to see many migrant herdsmen of the sub region moving into our land as an annual rituals;
4. Salt producers producing volumes of salt for the sub region;
5. We are a net potential producers and exporters of water
The above are the few that we can draw your attention to for now, and with them well organized by public authorities, poverty is an alien and has no space for invitation to our land. Please, this is a reminder: SEARCH YOUR COMMUNITY!
NOW, lets remind ourselves of some wetlands in our land, that we much see as of wealth bank worth managing well to give us all we need to describe our land as the surviving remnants of THE BIBLICAL GARDEN OF EDEN:
• Keta Lagoon and the Volta Estuary
• River Zior- Tordze
• River Tsawe-Alabo
• River Kalakpa
• River Dayi
• River Wawa
• River Menu
• River Aka
• River Men
• River Oti
• River Volta
• River Kabo
• River Korlor
Indeed the list can be four times this, in fact over 500 coastal and inland wetlands exist in our territory, and we need good-minds to manage them. For now, the near inappropriate management of these wetland areas has not only inflicted poverty on our people but also has annual problem of:
Seasonal water shortage
Crops failure and animals lost
Devastitating annual storms
Let us also remind and ourselves and hope that by the nature of our land being a land of huge mountain ranges full of water serving several kilometres of low lands, proper management is awaiting us to achieve self-sufficiency and resilience. Indeed, with self-reliance and good people and resource governance, our territory will never thirst and, will never want for wetland products, services and functions
Wetlands perform functions of great importance to society. They include:
• Maintenance of the water table Wetlands to facilitate the movement of large volumes of water into the underground aquifers, resulting in the recharge of the water table. This process maintains a high water table, supports healthy plant growth and may also be drawn for human consumption and industrial activities.
• Flood and Erosion Prevention. Wetlands prevent surface run-off from moving swiftly and overflowing the river banks downstream thus preventing erosive flood conditions.
• Storm Protection. – Wetlands, such as mangroves and other forested coastal areas, act as windbreaks and help to mitigate the impact of coastal storm surges. A greater part of our shoreline, especially Keta and Ada, is vulnerable to storm surges due to lack of such a natural protective system. Hence, the frequent storm surges and sea erosion in these areas.
• Water Purification. – Wetlands remove sediments, nutrients, toxic substances and other pollutants in surface run-off. This improves the water quality and prevents the siltation of downstream watercourses. Micro-climate Stabilization Wetlands vegetation may also evaporate or transpire water into the atmosphere. This falls as rain in the surrounding area and helps to maintain stable climatic conditions. This, in turn, supports stable agriculture and other resource-based activities.
The Wetlands as a Habitat – Wetlands provide habitat for high concentrations of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates species. Thousands of waterfowl, many of them migratory, visit Western Togoland during the northern winter. About 60% of all fish catches from the sea spawn in coastal wetlands. The west African Sitatunga (Tragelaphus spekei), thought to be extinct in West Africa, has been discovered recently in the Volta Delta
It is our hope that with the right attitude towards our environment we shall make this planet a joyful place to live on.
Environment Concern Committee
Peoples’ Liberation Council (PLC) of Western Togoland