of the first things you hear is that there is environmental degradation because of so-called shifting cultivation practices and bush fallow systems; and that these practices or agricultural practices are degrading of the environment. This has turned out empirically to be wrong.
Indeed, whether you call it the bush fallow system or the shifting cultivation system, it had a embedded in it proper pract ices to actual ly protect the environment and still maintain the eco- balance. So it will also be part of my view that the District Assemblies should begin to encourage their people to get back to these traditional mechanisms for actually addressing questions of the environment.
In our quest for development -- and it is a major problem for most African countries -- we always think that if we have to achieve development then we must engage in a battle against tradition. So what is modern, despite how inappropriate it might be for our circumstances, seems to be the focus of all our strategies. And yet, we know that those situations could work very well for other countries because of their peculiar culture and because of the level of their own industrial development.
But in a country like Ghana, that is still basically emerging from pastoral agricultural activities, mixed with high urbanity, you begin to run into difficulties; and we must stagger our environment policy in terms of what would deal with our major cities, what would deal with our major towns and what would deal with our rural communities.
Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I would also want us to begin to learn from the experiences of other countries, that we should avoid policies that are normally “fire fighting” policies. We wait till the crisis emerges; we look for an immediate prescription to address it.
When one looks at the sewerage system of the United Kingdom, it becomes interesting to see that the infrastructure for that sewerage system was laid down as far back as 1848; and it has stood the test of time because it is a forward-looking policy that anticipated expansion over the years in very complex situations like that. So it becomes important, whether it be in the environment sector or not, that any policy that we want to put in place should always be a forward-looking policy and not a one- hop type of activity.
Deputy Minister for Private Sector Development & PSI (Mr. M. D. Baah): Mr. Speaker, I wish to associate myself with the Statement made by the hon. Minister for Environment and Science.
Mr. Speaker, in talking about the environment, what comes to my mind immediately is the issue of poor planning of our towns and cities in the country.
Mr. Speaker, if I take the example of Accra, many of our suburbs have been poorly planned and where the planning is even properly done, there is inability to enforce the plans. So we see people building across waterways, building in areas that have been designated as parks and gardens, and so on. And in this process, Mr. Speaker, a lot of things go wrong, especially during the rainy season where the citizens call on Government to support in rescuing them from these places. Mr. Speaker, even in our smaller towns and cities, the planning is ineffective and it creates a lot of problems for our people during the rainy season.
Mr. Speaker, the other issue that comes to mind is the issue of poor sanitation. Recently, we are all aware of the decision that has been taken by the Accra Metropolitan Authority (AMA)
regarding the issue of plastic waste in Accra. Our people throw waste into gutters and drains that have been constructed with a lot of money, and people even defecate into these drains in our towns and cities. I think Mr. Speaker, it is time for Ghanaians to reconsider how we use these drainage facilities in disposing of our waste.
Mr. Speaker, the other issue that comes to mind is the lack of interest in planting trees in our towns and cities. I do not know how many of us sitting in this Chamber have planted at least one or two trees in our life-time, particularly around our own homes. Mr. Speaker, I want to urge hon. Members of this House to take up tree-planting -- especially now that we are in the rainy season -- around our homes and in our constituencies. We should encourage our people to plant trees, particularly fruit trees like mangoes, oranges and so on, that would help them in future.
Mr. Speaker, with these few words, I want to thank the hon. Minister for bringing to the fore the issue of sanitation in our towns and the environment as a whole.