Report from RAN Ghana: The Struggle for Gua Koo Forest Reserve & Sunkwa Stream

posted by Josh Ran

This report comes from John Akwetey with RAN Ghana.

Since the colonial time, the Indigenous people of Pokuase have depended on their Forest reserve, more than any other Indigenous group in Ghana. Everything about the Pokuase, including their cultural, rituals and portable drinking water, had been influenced by the rainforest. However, in the last years since corporate developers first moved to the area, the Indigenous people of Pokuase had suffered from various diseases through the contamination of their stream, forceful repression for trying to protect their forest reserve and lack of support in their struggle.

In the past, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized the unique value of Pokuase culture and the Gua Koo forest reserve by declaring that the Pokuase “have long rich history of their natural environment, as evidenced by their strong tie with the Sunkwa stream.”

RAN Ghana members with Pokuase youth
RAN Ghana members with Pokuase youth

Our visit, in July 2009, came just weeks after some private developers had started clearing and destroying the forest reserve and had threatened to repress any resistance by the Pokuase people. Shortly after our arrival, the representative of the Indigenous people said “We get our drinking water from this forest. The forest was in existence since our ancestral generation. We need to protect it for our children and their fourth generations.”

The survival of the Pokuase hinges on their ability to gain control of and sustainably manage their own traditional territory. To support the Pokuase’s struggle for Gua Koo Forest reserve and Sunkwa stream, RAN Ghana carried out an assessment, met with the traditional authority and the Indigenous people and also educated the community at a forum. RAN Ghana is also strategizing campaigns to organize with the Pokuase to keep encroachers away, build the capacity of the traditional authority and youth to protect the forest, institute environmentally friendly alternative projects and demarcation of the forest reserve.

RAN Ghana members visit a portion of the destroyed and cleared Pokuase forest reserve that the Indigenous people are struggling to protect
RAN Ghana members visit a portion of the destroyed and cleared Pokuase forest reserve that the Indigenous people are struggling to protect
Deforestation
RAN Ghana's John F. Akwetey speaks at the Pokuase forum
RAN Ghana's John F. Akwetey speaks at the Pokuase forum

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