“Sustaining Muni Lagoon and Winneba” – A Collaboration between UEW and University of Virginia, USA

A four-day seminar, has been organized at the University of Education, Winneba, from Monday 5th March, 2018 to Thursday 8th March, 2018 under the aegis of the Centre for International Programmes (CIP). The seminar was co-sponsored by UEW and University of Virginia located in the City of Charlottesville, under the theme “Sustaining Muni Lagoon and Winneba”. The seminar was about a project on tapping the economic potentials of Muni Lagoon, including ecotourism in Winneba.

The City of Charlottesville is collaborating with the city of Winneba under the Sister Cities International, a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network that creates and strengthens partnerships between U.S. and international communities. This network strives to build global cooperation at the municipal level, promote cultural understanding and stimulate economic development. Winneba is a Twin Sister city to Charlottesville hence, the project.

The Seminar was attended by the Acting Vice-Chancellor, Rev. Fr. Prof. Anthony Afful-Broni, the Dean of Graduate School, Professor G. Kankam, selected students from the Geography Department of UEW, University of Virginia, lecturers from the two universities, Dr. Angela Lamptey from University of Ghana, Legon, a Ramsar Site Manager and some workers, and John Jay Baiden-Amissah, Chairman for Charlottesville-Winneba Sister Cities Commission which is an organizing body, appointed by Council and devoted to assisting the individual Sister City relationships with community activities and promotion.

Keynote Speaker, Dr. Angela Lamptey from the Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences, Legon gave an overview of Ramsar Sites and Wetlands in Ghana and educated participants on World Wetlands Day which falls on 2nd February every year. She said that Muni Lagoon was designated a Ramsar Site under the Ghana Coastal Wetlands Management Project in 1999 (Ofori-Danson et al. 1999). The site supports an estimated 23,000 water birds (www.ramsar.org).

She said that The Convention's mission is “the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution towards achieving sustainable development throughout the world”. She said the Muni Lagoon is a closed lagoon which occasionally opens to the sea, especially during the rainy season.  Rivers (Muni and Pratu) feed the lagoon, but these are normally dried up except during the rainy season.

Dr. Guoping Huang, Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, University of Virginia led students from Virginia to do presentations on various aspects of the Muni Lagoon they are researching into. These are Human Settlement, Water Systems, Tourism, Economic and Transportation potentials. The presentations also aimed at sustaining the Muni Lagoon.

Also, Mr. Emmanuel Okyere Yeboah, a past student of UEW and currently a National Service person at the Department of Geography, made a brief presentation of his research project on Ecosystem Restoration: Evidence from local knowledge and management system. A case study of the Yenku Forest. He talked about resorting to the use of local people and their management practices such as taboos and sacred days in conserving the Yenku Forest.

Muni Lagoon Ramsar Site Manager, Mr. Andy Agyekumhene, presenting on ‘The Vision of Muni-Pomadze Ramsar Site’ informed participants about plans to develop the areas around the lagoon into tourism site. Also, he spoke about plans to develop the hunting grounds and reintroduce animals so that tourists can come and watch year round. Additionally, the development of the Manko hills at Mankoadze, into a hiking area was underway. He said that all these have a potential to improve revenue and create employment in the area.

In an interview with Prof. Nancy Takahashi, Dept. of Landscape Architecture, University of Virginia, she said that this seminar is a new adventure for the students.  The students are looking at the idea of how a natural resource like a lagoon can be used to the advantage of Winneba Municipality.

The students as part of their activities, visited the Winneba state forest reserve walking through the forest close to the Anamuah Conference Centre and then to Water Works (water plants). Finally, they moved to Okyereko in Winneba to visit the irrigation plantation there.

Other activities undertaken were assessment of Infrastructure in Winneba, a visit to the Town and Country Planning in the community, and Water Quality and Sanitation in Winneba. The group also paid a visit to major landfill sites and visited the Muni Lagoon. They looked at various species of plants and birds in and around the lagoon and took GPS coordinates of the points.

Mr. Andy Y. Agordah of the Centre for International Programmes made the final presentation on ‘UEW at a Glance’. A brief history of UEW, its mission, vision, core values, special status, logo and mandate was also brought to light. Additionally, students’ accommodation and enrolment statistics, faculties, schools and other recreational activities were discussed.