In 2011, a collaborative project focused on climate and ecosystem change adaptation and resilience studies in Africa (CECAR-Africa) with Ghana as the focal country, was initiated. The goal was to combine climate change and ecosystem change research, and to use that combination as a basis for building an integrated resilience enhancement strategy as a potential model for semi-arid regions across Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Project is being financially supported by the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS), a collaborative programme of the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). CECAR-Africa involves the following leading climate and ecosystems research organizations in Ghana and Japan: The University of Tokyo; Kyoto University; United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS); University of Ghana; Ghana Meteorological Agency; University for Development Studies; and United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA).
CECAR-Africa has been operating fully since 2012, with a focus on three thematic areas, namely: Forecast and assessment of climate change impact on agro-ecosystems (Agro-ecosystem resilience); Risk assessment of extreme weather hazards and development of adaptive resource management methods (Engineering resilience); and Implementing capacity development programs for local communities and professionals (social institutions-technical capacity development) using the assessment results derived from work on the first two themes.
This special issue presents major outcomes of the Project so far. The articles featured used various techniques and methods such as field surveys, questionnaires, focal group discussions, land use and cover change analysis, and climate downscaled modelling to investigate the impacts of climate and ecosystem changes on river flows and agriculture, and to assess the local capacity for coping with floods, droughts and disasters, and for enhancing the resilience of farming communities.
We are happy to be able to publish this special issue just in time for an international conference on CECAR-Africa in Tamale, Ghana, on 6-7 August, 2014. It is hoped that the shared research outcomes will facilitate discussions on the project research themes and interactions and exchange of ideas among academics, professionals, and government officials on the way forward for the CECAR-Africa Project.
We find it only appropriate to conclude by thanking the authors and reviewers of the articles, and by acknowledging, with gratitude, the local knowledge and other bits and pieces of information contributed by the many anonymous farmers and other people of northern Ghana.
Dynamical downscaling (DDS), in which a regional atmospheric model (RAM) experiment nested into coarser-resolution data provides a spatio-temporal fine dataset for a particular region, was performed to assess the present climate in Ghana. The DDS successfully evaluated realistic seasonal march and inter-annual variability in rainfall, in comparison with gauge and satellite observation. The DDS also indicated that land-lake and land-sea circulation interacted with the West African monsoon likely characterized the local climate in Ghana.
The possibility of future climate change in Ghana has received much attention due to repeated droughts and floods over the last decades. The savanna zone which is described as the food basket of Ghana is highly susceptible to climate change impact. Scenarios from 20-year time slices of the near future – 2046-2065 – and the far future – 2081-2100 – climate change meant to help guide policy remain a challenge. Empirical downscaling performed at the local-scale of Wa District in the savanna zone of Ghana under the IPCC A2 SRES emissions scenario showed evidence of probable climate change with mean annual temperatures expected to increase over an estimated range of 1.5°C to 2.3°C in the near future, with number of cool nights becoming less frequent, especially during the Harmattan* period. The dry season is expected to be warmer than the wet season, with high inter-annual variations projected in both maximum (Tmax) and minimum (Tmin) temperatures. Given an average of 1 day of Tmax> 40°C per month in the control period of 1961-2000, the number of hot days is expected to increase to 12 by 2046-2065. An increase in total rainfall is projected with possible shifts in distribution toward the end of the year, with a slight increase in rainfall during the dry season and an increase of rainfall at the onset and toward the end of the wet season. However, a decrease in June rainfall is projected in the wet season. The objective of this paper is to improve the understanding of future climate as a guide to local level medium-term development plans of effective adaptation options for Wa district in the savanna zone of Ghana.
* Harmattan is a dry and dusty West African trade wind which blows from the Sahara into the Gulf of Guinea between the end of November and middle of March (dry season). The temperature can be as low as 3°C.
This paper assesses the impact of climate change in the Black Volta River by using data output from the atmospheric general circulation model with a 20-km resolution (AGCM20) through the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) and the Meteorological Research Institute (MRI). The Black Volta, which flows mainly in Burkina Faso and Ghana in West Africa, is a major tributary of the Volta River. The basin covers 142,056 km2 and has a semi-arid tropical climate. Before applying AGCM20 output to a rainfall–runoff model, the performance of the AGCM20 rainfall data is investigated by comparing it with the observed rainfall in the Black Volta Basin. To assess the possible impact of rainfall change on river flow, a kinematic wave model, which takes into consideration saturated and unsaturated subsurface soil zones, was performed. The rainfall analysis shows that, the correlation coefficient of the monthly rainfall between the observed rainfall and AGCM20 for the present climate (1979–2004) is 0.977. In addition, the analysis shows that AGCM20 overestimates precipitation during the rainy season and underestimates the dry season for the present climate. The analysis of the AGCM20 output shows the precipitation pattern change in the future (2075–2099). In the future, precipitation is expected to increase by 3%, whereas evaporation and transpiration are expected to increase by 5% and by 8%, respectively. Also, daily maximum rainfall is expected to be 20 mm, or 60%, higher. Thus, the future climate in this region is expected to be more severe. The rainfall–runoff simulation is successfully calibrated at the Bamboi discharge gauging station in the Black Volta from June 2000 to December 2000 with 0.72 of the Nash–Sutcliffe model efficiency index. The model is applied with AGCM20 outputs for the present climate (1979–2004) and future climate (2075–2099). The results indicate that future discharge will decrease from January to July at the rate of the maximum of 50% and increase from August to December at the rate of the maximum of 20% in the future. Therefore, comprehensive planning for both floods and droughts are urgently needed in this region.
This paper examines the effects of agricultural research expenditure and climate change on agricultural productivity growth by region in Ghana. A panel dataset is constructed for 2000-2009 from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana; and the Agriculture Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI) database of the International Food Policy Research Institute. A Malmquist index was used to compute agricultural productivity growth, including decomposition components efficiency change and technical change. The determinants of productivity growth are examined using a fixed effects regression model. The results specify that significant causal factors impact positively on Ghana’s agricultural productivity growth, include climate variability, infrastructure, and agricultural research and development expenditure. The study confirms there is a need to strengthen and develop new technological progress for sustainable agricultural production in Ghana.
In recent years, land use (LU) and landscape structure in ecoregions around the world have been faced with enormous pressures, from rapid population growth to urban sprawl. A preliminary account of changes in land cover (LC) and landscape structure in the ecoregions of Ghana is missing from the academic and research literature. The study therefore provides a preliminary assessment of the changing LU and landscape structure in the ecoregions of Ghana, identifying the causes and assessing their impact on land-based resources, and on urban and agricultural development. LU/LC maps produced from 30 m resolution Landsat TM5 in 1990 and ETM+ in 2000 were classified into dominant land cover types (LCTs) and used to survey the changing landscape of Ghana. LC-change map preparation was done with change detection extension “Veränderung” (v3) in an ArcGIS 10.1 environment. At the class level, Patch Analyst version 5.1 was used to calculate land use (LU) statistics and to provide landscape metrics for LU maps extracted from the satellite imagery. The results showed that commonly observed LCCs in the ecoregions of Ghana include conversion of natural forest land to various forms of cultivated lands, settlements, and open land, particularly in closed and open forest and savannah woodland. The dominant LU types in the ecoregions of Ghana are arable lands, which increased by 6168.98 km2. Forest and plantation LCTs decreased in area and were replaced by agricultural land, forest garden, and open land. Afforestation rarely occurred except in the rainforests. The mean patch size (MPS), a measure of fragmentation, was generally reduced consistently from 1990 to 2000 in all the ecoregions. Similar results that indicated increased fragmentation were an increased number of patches (NumP) and the Shannon diversity index (SDI). Habitat shape complexity inferred from mean shape index (MSI) decreased in all ecoregions except for rainforest and wet evergreen. The SDI and Shannon evenness index (SEI) showed that habitat diversity was highest in the coastal savannah and the deciduous forest ecoregions. The main drivers of changes in the LUs and landscape structure are demand for land and land-based natural resources to support competing livelihoods and developmental activities in the different ecoregions.
Sustainable crop production is important for food security in Northern Ghana, where highly variable rainfall coupled with high evaporation rates and soils prone to degradation combine to produce low crop yields of main staple crops that are vital for local people’s livelihoods. Rainfall in this region generally ranges between 800 mm and 1200 mm per annum, falling within a single rainy season from April to October, with a peak in late August-September. This amount is adequate for most arable crops such as maize, rainfed rice, soybeans, and yams. Intermittent dry spells occur, however, at critical crop growth stages, resulting in significant yield reductions. Several studies conducted in this area show that dry spells can be expected during each annual rain season, with a high level of certainty and duration from two to three days up to four weeks. This paper reviews both available literature on dry spell incidence and rainfall prediction in the West African region, with a particular focus on northern Ghana. Available daily rainfall data for 52 consecutive years are analyzed to determine dry spell duration and occurrence in northern Ghana.
Despite the growing demand for rice in Ghana, domestic rice production remains low, resulting in the importation of about 70% of the rice consumed in Ghana. In spite of the fact that 39-47% of the 20-28% of Ghana’s total geographic area classified as inland valley wetlands is considered suitable for rice cultivation, less than 15% is presently being used. A household survey was therefore conducted in six communities, Fihini (F), Cheshegu (C), Dabogushei (D), Kpalgum (K), Zergua (Z), and Yoggu (Y), of the Tolon district in northern Ghana in order to identify factors affecting the introduction of rice into the cropping system. Maize, groundnut, rice, and yam were found to be the four major crops grown in the communities. Overall, 64% of respondents cultivate rice, but this figure is particularly low (30%) in F and Y communities. Rice is usually combined with two other major crops, most frequently maize and yam. In C, D, and K communities, about 90% of households cultivate at least, three out of the four major crops. The interview with farmers revealed that rice yield is 0.73 t/ha on average and significantly higher in K and C (1.06 t/ha and 0.93 t/ha, respectively) than in D (0.37 t/ha). The average distance from compound houses to rice and maize fields is significantly shorter in C, D, and K. Similarly, the rate of rice introduction in C, D, and K is higher than in F, Z, and Y, suggesting that distance to inland valleys may be one of the factors that influence the incorporation of rice into the cropping systems of these communities. Principal component analysis of crop yields and cattle number for the Y community revealed that rice growers tend to have higher crop productivity while cattle production is higher among non-rice growers. Within the community, the productivity of upland crops and balance between crop production and cattle production may be important factors that influence the incorporation of rice into the cropping system.
In recent times, there has been increasing interest in the importance of agricultural soils as global carbon sinks, and the opportunity of enhancing the resilience of degraded agroecosystems – particularly in savannah regions of the world. However, this opportunity is largely a function of land use and/or land management choices, which differ between and within regions. In the present study, we investigated the role of agriculture land use and farm management practices on soil organic carbon (SOC) storage in the savannah regions of northern Ghana. We evaluated selected land use types by using an integrated approach, involving on-farm interviews, community transect walks, land use monitoring, and soil sampling. Our results indicated that, at the landscape level, community land use and resource needs are important determinants of SOC storage in farmlands. We determined low SOC accumulation across the investigated landscape; however, the relatively high SOC stock in protected lands compared with croplands implies the potential for increasing SOC build-up by using recommended management practices. Low incomes, constraints to fertilizer use, low biomass availability, and reductions in fallow periods remain as barriers to SOC buildup. In this context, global soil carbon storage potential and smallholder food production systems will benefit from an ecosystembased adaptation strategy that prioritizes building a portfolio of carbon stores at the landscape level.
As a fundamental element of human lives, ecosystems and the services they provide across all socio-ecological regions are now under threat from human and natural activities. An assessment of the different categories of ecosystem services at various levels has become necessary for sustainable use and conservation. This study seeks to identify and characterize provisioning ecosystem services affecting rural households in the Tolon and Wa West Districts of northern Ghana. It examines the key dynamics of these services and discusses the major factors influencing their supply and utilization. The study employs rapid rural appraisal methods, including key informant interviews, household questionnaires surveys, focus group discussions, and participatory observations for collecting primary data. Findings indicate an extensive use of all provisioning services examined: bushmeat, crop and animal production, fish catches, fodder and forage, fuelwood, building materials, fresh water, and wild plants by households at all study sites. Averagely, 80% of households across the study sites collect and utilize these variety of services to support livelihood strategies. Our study also identified major challenges for sustainable supply and use of these ecosystem services, including the growing scarcity and decline in these services attributed to closely connected drivers such as cyclical drought, climate variation, land conversion, overharvesting, and a decline in traditional ecological knowledge. This study thus demonstrates the need for an integrated assessment that examines, at the local level, the interactions of various ecosystem services and human well-being to provide a scientific basis for formulation of effective coping and adaptation strategies in the midst of these challenges.
The effects of climate change on people’s livelihoods are perceived differently across various localities. It is imperative to examine how farmers understand the effects of climate change on their livelihoods. Their viewpoints can help create strategies for responding to climate and ecosystem changes in an appropriate and practical manner. Such perceptions are insufficiently understood in the Wa West District of the Upper West Region of Ghana, despite the increasing frequency and magnitude of climate change’s effects. This paper first examines farmers’ perceptions about climate change in their communities in relation to available, conventional climate information. It also assesses farmers’ livelihood activities during both the wet and dry seasons in the district and discusses the area’s proneness to floods, droughts, and other types of climate change phenomena. This assessment reveals the challenges faced by the farmers in the study area and the opportunities to enhance their livelihoods.
Northern Ghana is becoming vulnerable to risks induced by climate change. There is an urgent need to improve communities’ ability to cope by implementing risk-preventive measures at the household and community levels. However, studies have shown that the existing risk communication system often fails to encourage the people to implement risk-preventive measures because community concerns are not seriously taken in the adaptation planning and management process. The present study systematically examines community concerns about existing risks and possible adaptation strategies by conducting group meetings in four rural communities in the Wa West District. Results show that local communities consider drought or water scarcity to be the most severe risk from climate change because it is directly affecting their livelihood, which is mainly rain-fed subsistence agriculture. As their livelihood is increasingly affected by drought, the local communities are becoming more exposed to floods and other natural calamities. Presently, the climate change adaptation strategies of the local communities are weak and ineffective. It is found that improved irrigation facilitated by rainwater harvesting, watershed management, and seasonal weather forecasting are the preferred adaption strategies. Though a high level of intention to adopt non-structural preventive measures is observed, local communities report that a lack of knowledge and insufficient financial resources are major impediments to their implementation.
This study seeks to explore stakeholders’ perceptions, causes, and effects of extreme climatic events, such as droughts and floods, in the Wa West District of Ghana’s Upper West Region. A multi-stage sampling procedure is used to select 184 respondents. Data collection methods include individual questionnaire administration, focus group discussions, and a stakeholders’ forum in the Wa West District Assembly. While frequencies are used to show respondents’ perceptions of the severity of climate change effects, a treatment-effect model is used to determine the factors influencing farmers’ choices of on-farm coping strategies over off-farm activities in both periods of drought and flood. Findings are the following: farmers perceive that climate change is real and has severe consequences. Consequently, they resort to both on-farm and off-farm strategies to cope with the effects of climate change. While men mostly adopt the former, women adopt the latter. Both strategies are, however, not viable for taking them out of poverty, though off-farm activities are more effective. Education and extension services are other important factors influencing the choice of coping strategies as well as farmers’ welfare. Farmers must be supported with more viable income-earning activities, ones that can take them out of poverty. Women should be given priority. Access to education and extension services must also be stepped up to facilitate the adoption of the coping strategies and to increase welfare.
The study of community resilience observed in times of crisis has conventionally focused on the impact of external forces on sedentary and homogeneous communities embedded in specific ecological systems. Drawing on a qualitative case study of a rural community in northern Ghana, this paper reports that, even in a community of mostly small farmers, diversifying livelihoods is apparently a main coping strategy. This paper focuses on two, often overlooked, dimensions that underpin this livelihood diversification: mobility and gender. Mobility, the first dimension, indicates the work of livelihoods that develop outside the community such as the so-called “settler farming,” a variety of trading activities, and outmigration to cities. Gender, the second dimension, indicates cropping and commercial activities carried out differently by men and women. Both mobility and gender characterize diverse livelihood strategies, which evolve by enriching social relationships and extending networks. This paper argues that shedding light on social relationships and networks helps us to reframe the concept of community resilience from the community-based capacity of self-organization to the capacity of a flexible social system for being able to mobilize a wide variety of resources. Future research agendas must advance this understanding of resource mobilization in relation to ecological resilience and must clarify its technological and policy implications.
This study investigates characteristics of the damage to housing caused by the 2011 Thai flood and explores recovery processes. There are three research objectives. The first objective is to compile financial losses and support for residents affected by the 2011 flood. The second objective is to classify the types of reconstruction that residents chose to renovate their own homes. The third objective is to estimate residents’ capability for coping with future floods. Huntra, a sub district in Ayutthaya province, was chosen as the site for this study. The research results indicate that the disaster recovery budget provided by national government was too small, and was not enough for all of the reconstruction that the affected residents needed. Renovation that offers better protection against floods is classified into two groups. Type A is called elevated houses, in which the used spaces are elevated higher than before flood. Type B is called extended houses, in which the used spaces that are considered safe in a disaster are extended. Most residents could not afford this type of renovation. However, so far the most widely used option is painting the house in order to erase the watermark from the flood. In the three years since the flood occurred, residents have gained a greater awareness of flood evacuation; however, only a small number of residents decided to reconstruct their house using measures for flood protection. Flood relief policy that focuses on providing money for the affected homeowners has therefore not been successful. Our study suggests that the government should establish more systematic support, such as provision of construction materials or craftsmen/labor to communities or residents.
The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) released a new version of tsunami warning system using three qualitative expressions for tsunami height. Understanding disaster mitigation information requires adequate knowledge on disaster occurrence mechanisms and precise action in emergencies. We surveyed differences in understanding and assessing tsunami warning information among university students in two prefectures – one damaged by the 2011 off Pacific Coast of Tohoku Earthquake and the other outside of the damage zone. Results revealed that those outside of the damage zone tended to estimate tsunami heights as higher than those inside the damage zone when reading qualitative tsunami heights in the JMA’s new tsunami warning version. They also tended to need more concrete, precise information to understand appropriate evacuation procedures provided by public institutions, including the JMA.