Condition of the Natural Environment
The District has extensive forest resources from which extraction of timber and other non-timber forest products are exploited on a large scale. However lack of comprehensive resource extraction policy and security of land tenure coupled with bad farming and lumbering practices have resulted in deforestation and loss of vital timber and non-timber resources in many areas within the forest zones of the District especially the Gwira Banso Stool Land area.
The over-dependence on the forest for fuel-wood (by over 90% of the population) has also led to deforestation. All these have led to the depletion of Natural Resources in the District and most importantly a change in the micro-climate of the Area as depicted by the rainfall and temperature trends in table 2 presented. The depletion and degradation of the Natural Resources threaten the very source of livelihood of the People. With the majority of the Households depending on fuel-wood and charcoal as their main source of fuel, an overwhelming majority of the population in all the major towns like Axim, Esiama, Aiyinase and Atuabo are under imminent threat of a fuel-wood crises. Communities would be encouraged and assisted to embark on wood-lot plantation and other nature conservation programmes. Alternative energy sources use (like L.P. Gas) would be vigorously pursued.
Water pollution is also another major problem in the District. The main elements of pollution have been waste products of coconut oil extraction and the discharge of human excreta and solid waste into many streams and the sea. Sand and stone winning activities along the coast especially in Axim have led to considerable sea erosion and continues to threaten some communities along the coast. These activities need to be regulated. An integrated coastal management programme should be promoted in collaboration with any interested NGO.
The recent upsurge of small-scale mining activities (galamsey) in the District, especially around Dadwen, Nkroful and Salma, as well as granting of many applications and concessions for formal gold prospecting is another source of concern though it offers potentials for employment creation, there is the need for close monitoring and regulations to minimize its negative environmental effects. For example, the Kaolin Mining around Salma and its environs have also created a number of open pits which pose serious health and environmental challenges. Effective and efficient measures like the E. I, A would be put in place in collaboration with stakeholders like the EPA and Minerals Commission to ensure a sustainable resource management and a health and clean environment. In addition to this, intensive public education programmes on the environment would also be undertaken.
Conditions of the Built Environment
A major challenge here is with the land ownership. Individual families compete the chiefs for the ownership of the land. Many communities are therefore without any proper planning schemes or lay-outs. Presently there are only 45 communities with proper planning schemes in the District. Chiefs and Landowners allocate plots of land to people without reference to the appropriate Authorities to further worsen the situation. Many of these problems have been caused by ignorance of the relevant laws and regulations on land use. So therefore with intensive public education and monitoring, these problems could be reduced. The District Statutory Planning Committee needs to be strengthened and resourced to help control development.
The Housing environment in the District is characterized by poor and choked drains, unkempt surroundings, exposed building foundations and cracked walls and leaking roofs. Majority (over 60%) of these houses were built with mud, wattle and daub raffia or bamboo and land-creat and roofed with either thatch, bamboo or iron sheets. With a household size of about 6 compared to the National average of 5.1, most of them lack water and toilet facilities due to the unplanned layouts. The hosing problem can be said to be of quality rather than quantity.
The poor drainage coupled with excessive rainfall and other human practices have resulted in extensive erosion and flooding within the built environment. Communities would be encouraged to undertake disaster and erosion prevention activities like tree planting, landscaping and the desilting of drains. The Assembly would also explore innovative low cost appropriate technologies for housing delivery and pilot these through a Rural Housing Scheme.