Ghana’s economy relies heavily on climate sensitive sectors mainly on agriculture, energy and forestry. About 70% of the population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture and forest sector for both timber and non-timber forest products. Any anomaly in the climate therefore tends to affect the economy of Ghana, particularly the vulnerable.
The limited use of irrigation facilities and high dependence on unfavorable climatic conditions for the realization of good harvest tend to introduce huge instability in the standards of living of the people. The percentage of cultivated land under irrigation in Ghana is 0.89%.
This is equivalent to 23,657 hectares. Consequently, majority of Ghanaians, who live in the rural areas and thrive mainly on rain-fed farming in rural communities, become disproportionately vulnerable since they are most exposed to hazards such as bush fires, flooding and droughts and are least capable of adapting to such hazards.
Meet Kenneth Amoateng, a young hardworking Executive Director of Abibiman Foundation who shared his experienced with me helping his community adapt to climate change. He is a change maker and a climate champion in his community. Throughout his life, he does not think about himself alone but how well others survive in the community.
Please introduce yourself
I am Kenneth Amoateng, the executive director of Abibiman foundation, I am a social worker and a social activist advocating for climate change issues, education, human rights just to name few.
How did you become a climate change advocate?
Being driven by the passion to help society, I got involved in the fight to combat climate change as a result of the adverse impact of climate change on some communities and how it made the inhabitants vulnerable due to the washing away of the coastal lands of Tema manhean, a fishing community in which I once lived.
As a young person, how do you help your community to adapt to climate change?
As a young person, I decided to educate my community by creating greater awareness on climate change through the local community radio. I started speaking on radio to create the awareness on the causes of the washing away of the beach and what they as a community members can do to become less vulnerable. I also went to schools to speak to student and formed clubs at the schools to educate the students as well.
What motivated as a Climate change activist?
My motivation was found in the realization of the community members wanting to fight climate change through their own small way through their participation in designing local strategies to adapt to climate change. The willingness of the community members motivated me to study more about climate change and educate more people especially the youth and build their capacities to take up initiatives to build resilience.
As the executive director of Abibiman foundation, is there any climate change projects you undertook and what impacts has it got to the community?
We have undertaken a number of climate change projects such as the climate justice hearings in 2009, 2011 and 2015 where we tried to assess the knowledge of the rural people especially women to assess their level of vulnerability and find out the local/indigenous ways in which the adapt to the impacts and help them develop local coping strategies through community participation. We have also established the Green Life Clubs in a number of senior high schools and junior high schools since 2010 till date to educate the students and build their capacities while empowering them to develop their potential to become climate change advocates and build resilience.
What is your impression about climate change adaptation in Ghana? Is the future bright or gloomy?
Climate change adaptation in Ghana is the way to go. Looking at the economics of climate change, adaptation in my view is a step in the right direction. Communities in Ghana must be help to become resilient in order to make them less vulnerable and minimize losses and damages. They will also be able to manage disaster risks. I will therefore say climate change adaptation is bright as we expect it to receive a lot of funding.
Has your organization ever taken any climate change impact awareness in your community? What is the result?
My organization has taken a number of climate change impact awareness across the 10 regions of Ghana and a number of communities in these regions. Most of the rural farmers have had a clearer understanding of climate variability which has enabled them to engage in climate smart agriculture.
What adaptation measures did you introduce to your community?
Local indigenous knowledge includes and not limited to: defined knowledge of plant and animal species, water harvesting technologies, food preservation techniques, seed selection, soil conservation though no tillage and other techniques, use of early warning systems to predict climate changes, use of indigenous techniques in the management of pests and diseases, and multi-species composition of herds to survive climate extremes.
Adaptation measures to manage climate change risks. should include; Climate smart agricultural Fisheries production, Diversification of livelihoods/ alternatives, Decentralization of local governance of resources, Alternative energy uses, Infrastructural development, Climate information, Early warning systems, Insurance schemes.
We cannot win the battle against climate change without the indigenous and scientific knowledge, raise awareness and public education on Climate change in the community.
Fariya Abubakari, a climate tracker for Global Call for Climate Action.
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