Faith produces works, just as a mango tree produces mango fruits: You cannot separate the two
Faith produces works, just as a mango tree produces mango fruits: You cannot separate the two

Praise God for wetlands

There is so much rural life in my upbringing and consciousness that the least opportunity I get, I mentally re-live the carefree days of the rustic countryside and sprawling farmlands.

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One such opportunity emerged on February 2 when the world observed the World Wetlands Day. Talk about wetlands and my heart leaps in nostalgia.

We rural folks know, by experience, what the textbooks tell us in writing – that, “Wetlands are critical ecosystems that provide many important services to people and the environment.”

My father, with his co-farmers and their large families, were beneficiaries of those important services of wetlands. While the cocoa grew under the giant trees on a mixture of sandy loam and laterite soil, the food crops thrived on the wetlands.

Those food crops provided the sustenance for families in the rural areas throughout the year. The farmers cultivated rice in the swamps and farmed maize, plantain, cassava, cocoyam, and a variety of vegetables on the elevated portions of the wetlands. 

When the dry season persisted, the farmers were grateful to God for preserving wetlands on earth. When the wind blew over the wetlands, it carried soothing coolness across the atmosphere to the inhabitants.  

Wetlands

It was on these wetlands that we hunted crabs and mudfish for our mothers. And I still remember spending some time on those wetlands plucking large leaves for the rice seller who gave us cooked rice for our efforts.

“The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof,” says Psalm 24:1. The fullness includes the people, animals, birds, trees, rivers, mountains, valleys and wetlands. Therefore, we lift up praise and adoration to the God who made them all.

I know about wetlands, whether the relatively small ones in the Ejisu district, where my parents lived and cultivated their farms, or the wetlands along the Volta Basin down the slopes of Nankpanduri and Sakogu, where we come from.  

The same wetlands stretch all the way to the Pwalugu basin, where tomatoes grow in abundance, and to the north-western reaches nicknamed “overseas”.

Of course, these little-known wetlands are nowhere near those of River Pra, Tano and Ankobra, which are said to be the three principal south-western basin systems of our country.

But the little-known wetlands, for many years, have been the breadbasket for the surrounding communities.

Unlike the higher grounds that get dehydrated during the dry season, the wetlands are moist and well fertilised all-year round.

Why do you think the northern regions are famous for rice cultivation despite having long spells of dryness? It is due to the wetlands that can hold moist over a long period.

Domestic

Domestic and wild animals graze on the grassland and drink from the water ponds on the wetlands. That is why Fulani headsmen do not need to lead their flock to people’s farms.

In the north-east region, hard-working farmers take advantage of these Godsend wetlands to cultivate crops for food, for jobs and for export.
For jobs, because wise school leavers in the communities grow rice, maize, millet and soya beans on the wetlands instead of joining the association of unemployed graduates.   

For export, traders rush in from Burkina Faso, Togo and Nigeria during the harvesting season to buy cereals from the local market.

For food, as Pastor Paul Kombat of the Sakogu Baptist church told me, “The wetlands feed us!” 

Many of our cities and towns have wetlands located in vantage places as swamps, but the quest for human habitat has destroyed these ecosystems.

Calling them “water lock,” people fill them up to build houses, thus damaging the biodiversity that works together to support life and maintain a unique balance.  

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The wetlands around the Densu River and the Weija dam on the Kasoa road are examples of such abuses.

Godsend

Wetlands are “Godsend”, for God promised in Isaiah 41:18, “I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.”

The fulfilment of that promise comes in two ways: first, God provides hope and peace in times of distress; secondly, God has provided abundant wetlands on earth, and Ghana has our fair share of them.

Some of the “green pastures” that David wrote about in Psalm 23 include wetlands, where grass grow. There, the Lord, the Chief Shepherd, makes the sheep to lie down in green pastures and there he restores our souls.

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Equally amazing are the rivers and streams that run deep within the earth into which boreholes are drilled to pump water for human usage.  
When we say “God is good” (Nahum 1:7), we mean, “All the time!”  For the earth would never be the same if there were no wetlands with all their many benefits.

The writer is a publisher, author, writer-trainer and CEO of Step Publishers.
E-mail: [email protected]

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