Monday, April 25, 2011

Coping with climate change in Ghana

Evelyn Tagbo in Business Day online (Nigeria): … Keta in Volta Region of Ghana is a coastal town very close to Aflao, the last town on Ghana's border with Togo. For the many Nigerians that visit the country by road, Keta is the first face of Ghana they see. Along the narrow road leading through Keta and Anloga, another neighbouring town, are a number of dilapidated ancient European-style buildings that tell a lot about the areas' past.

…Dan Dotse, a scientist whom the reporter met at the Afloa border, however, believes that the regular flooding in the area which Francis, blames on the voodoo priestess might not really be her making. He blames the situation on climate change. "The people of Keta and its environs are some of the worst victims of climate change in Ghana. Many of them have been rendered homeless by such floods and many others are still very much at risk," he says.

…According to experts, Ghana's northern and Volta regions are more prone to climate devastation than other parts of the country. The frequency of droughts and floods is increasing in both areas. While both trends are damaging to livelihoods, floods are especially problematic, as they destroy productive infrastructure. Being a poor settlement, some of the homes destroyed by the floods, cost their owners their entire life savings. Little wonder the agony that comes with such losses.

….Thousands of coastal dwellers in West Africa like the Ketans, are already feeling the impacts of climate change. This is resulting in significant economic and human losses and hindering efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in these areas. In September 2008, rising sea levels destroyed hundreds of homes, hotels, roads and harvests, in Cotonou, Benin's capital.

…Even without climate change, agriculture in Nigeria, Benin Republic and other West African countries face serious challenges - land degradation, high rainfall variability, lack of storage infrastructure, inadequate irrigation systems, and a relatively stagnant contribution to economic growth….

A view of the beach from St. George's castle in Ghana, shot by Stig Nygaard, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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