SHARING INFORMATION AND EXPERIENCES ON CLIMATE CHANGE IN GHANA

Ghana Climate Change
Ghana Climate Chnage

MS. TItilope Akosa, Executive Director, Centre for 21st Century Issues (Nigeria)
On 7th and 8th August 2012, I was in Ghana to share climate change experiences from Nigeria at a workshop organized by Friends of the Earth Ghana (FOEGhana) with the support of commonwealth foundation for local communities in and around Yameriga, in the upper East Region and Nanton, in the Northern region of Ghana.
The workshop titled “Raising Climate Change Awareness for Adaptive Capacity in Rural communities in Northern Ghana” was organized with the objective of providing climate change information to guide actions of local people and assist them to adapt to current and future risks associated to the impacts of climate change.
My Colleague, Mr. George Awudi of FOEGhana, gave useful information on the causes and consequences of climate change in Ghana and explained how local people can contribute to climate change through tree felling for firewood, bush burning and other unsustainable farming practices. He enjoined the people to continue the practice of tree planting and promise that FOEGhana will continue to support the communities as much as they can in their adaptation efforts.
The workshop was quite interesting; I had the opportunity to share with the people my organizations experiences in creating awareness about climate change in urban and rural areas in Nigeria. I particularly shared the experience on the July 10, 2011 rains which crippled the whole of Lagos state and the recent rains in Anambra state which destroyed crops of farmers and resulted in 2 farmers committing suicide because they had borrowed huge sums of money from the bank to plow their lands.
Explaining the gender dimensions of climate change with the local people was a big eye opener, in that it revealed the various underlining issues of inequality that makes women to be more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change than men and how women and men are affected differently because of their differential roles in the communities. For instance, women from the two communities said they do not own land on which they farm. According to them the land is owned by men in the community and they often dictate to them what to plant on the land. Women are not in the decision making positions in the communities, decisions are made on their behalf by the men. The women are saddled with various household shores and the impacts of climate change in reduced rainfall have increased their household burdens. The fuel wood business is still thriving in the communities since they have no alternative.
To illustrate the gender aspect of climate change the men and women were asked to say what they will do in time s of climate related disasters. The women said they will run to safety with their children while men said they will try and protect their families from the disasters because they are men and they owe their families the responsibility to protect them. These responses are inspired by the differential roles played by women and men in the communities.
The people shared with me different adaptation measures they have adopted in coping with the impacts of climate change. Some of the farmers said that they either shift the time of planting when the rains comes late or cultivate roots and tubers that are drought resistant. They also engage in rainwater harvesting in time of water scarcity and they plant trees.
In Yameriga community, they have different organizations such as Yameriga tree planting Association and Yameriga Women Tree Growers Association while in Nanton they have farmers associations. These associations engage in massive tree planting and they use songs to convey messages about the benefits inherent in tree planting. Some of the songs they rendered during the workshops are;
“We will look after our trees well, we will never let it die”.
“Trees are good. It is true it gives life”,  “When you work and need rest you rest under trees”.
Overall, the program was an exciting experience; I learnt a lot from the people and I shared my experiences and skills with them. An important outcome of the program was the recommendation suggested by the women that there is need to do an exchange visit to Nigeria whereby the local people from Ghana and the local people in Nigeria will have opportunity to share experiences and exchange knowledge on various adaptation practices by the local people in the two countries.

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