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04.06.2018 Opinion

Are We Safe? (Part 1)

By Richard Asante
Are We Safe? (Part 1)
LISTEN JUN 4, 2018

The era where security was limited to Military machinations and intelligence, the procurement of bullets and guns is fast paving way for human welfare and vulnerability discussions. Presently, the threats to our security, peace and well-being are sourced from nowhere than environmental challenges and these are very complex situations that are far from police and military patrols and intelligence. The devastating nature of climate change is best understood when typhoons, tsunamis and hurricanes sweep over an entire community or parts of a country – Haiti, Dominican Republic, Japan, United States of America, just to mention a few.

Whether by goodwill or divine creativity, Ghana is not counted among the countries that experience severe catastrophic events related to climate change. Must we then throw our hands into the sky and sing glory? Should we celebrate the fact that the country is naturally excused from these life-threatening events? Certainly not! The memories of June 3rd disaster still linger in the minds of relatives of victims; they were traumatising scenes to eye witnesses and those who escaped this devastation. Apart from structural materials that run into huge monetary values, precious and innocent lives are lost. What beats my imagination is that these incidences are recurrent in various parts of the country.

With the changing climatic conditions coupled with extreme events, Ghana would have to be proactive in designing sustainable systems and interventions to meet these challenges. Many questions are begging for answers in simple clear language. How can we humbly lose great minds to the mercy of disasters when options are available? Are we safe? Are public institutions strong to implement policies and enforce laws? Have we, as a country lived up to the targets of the Hyogo Framework of Action and the current Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction? But who at all is responsible for providing these solutions or answers questions?

The world is fast moving towards the restoration of ecosystems to champion the cause of disaster risk reduction (Eco-DRR). It is among the best practices for offsetting disaster impacts and has come to replace the traditional hard engineering method that is not only costly but unsustainable. Elsewhere in Japan and Haiti, mangroves and coastal forests have been established to fight coastal erosion and protect coastal dwellers from devastations. Currently in Gambia, an ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change project has commenced to safeguard the “smiling coast” and population from flooding and food insecurity. Unfortunately, in Ghana, populations at the coastal lines of the Volta and Greater Accra Regions are left to the mercy of flooding and coastal erosion, forcing people to migrate. Not only are livelihoods lost to these disastrous events but also houses and critical infrastructure like schools and hospitals.

In Ada alone, hundreds of people are being chased away from their homes because of coastal erosion, livelihoods and buildings are lost in Accra and Kumasi (settlers along the Subin river), Northern Region (along White and Black Volta). The Eco-DRR approach is seen as a double-edged sword that improves the resilience of communities and people and also restores the environment to its best fit.

To answer the question of whether we are safe or not in view of the recurrent disasters and loss of lives and property, in my candid opinion, depends on some factors. The will power of the Ghanaian government to include disaster risk reduction in national development plan must be heightened and visible. The effectiveness of this design relies solely on the development and fortification of institutional capacities. Resourcing institutions and departments connected to disaster management and risk reduction is non-negotiable in the Build Back Better agenda championed by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The framework called for total national participation in this regard but the growing parallel collaborations between National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the Ghana Meteorological Agency, the Ambulance Service, Universities and Research institutions, Non-governmental Organisations, Environmental Protection Agency, Forestry Commission etc are likely to thwart the agenda to restore environmental integrity.

Richard Asante
Climate Change and Human Security, MRes
[email protected]

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."