National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy
There is no doubt that the impacts of climate change are beginning to manifest on the entire globe and particularly on developing countries that are relatively vulnerable. Unless mechanisms are carefully and systematically put in place to ensure resilience in development and reduce vulnerability, climate change and climate variability may pose serious challenges to national development.
Indeed governments, communities and individuals alike adapt measures to minimise the impacts of climate change. However, a critical examination of most of the measures so far reveal that they are not actually targeted at increasing resilience of affected people to climate change. The measures are rather reactionary and, tend out to be ultimately more costly and could therefore hardly address effectively impacts that are long term anticipated.
Adopting a proactive and a targeted approach is obviously more effective and less costly than responding reactively to climate change impacts as they happen. How can Ghana, as a nation, strategise and adapt to the future impacts of climate change, without compromising on her immediate Box 1 What is Adaptation? socio-economic needs?
Accordingly, this National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy intends to;
- Ensure a consistent, comprehensive and a targeted approach to increasing climate resilience and decrease vulnerability of the populace.
- Deepen awareness and sensitisation for the general populace particularly policy makers about the critical role of adaptation in national development efforts
- Position Ghana to draw funding for meeting her national adaptation needs
- Strengthen International recognition to facilitate action
- Facilitate the mainstreaming of Climate change and disaster risk reduction into national development.
The preparation of this National Climate Change Policy has been influenced by a number of factors.
Evidence abounds in Ghana that temperatures in all the ecological zones are rising whereas rainfall levels and patterns have been generally reducing and increasingly becoming erratic. The national economy stands to suffer from the impacts of climate change because it is dependent on climate sensitive-sectors such as agriculture, energy, forestry, etc. Based on a 20-year baseline climate observation, it is forecasted that maize and other cereal crop yields will reduce by 7% by 2050. Available data also shows a sea-level rise of 2.1 mm per year over the last 30 years, indicating a rise of 5.8 cm, 16.5 cm and 34.5 cm by 2020, 2050 and 2080. (Agyemang-Bonsu et al., 2008).
First, one of the commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the fundamental role expected of Parties (national governments) to ensure that climate change issues are taken into consideration in national development planning. In addition to this, is the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015, a comprehensive and action oriented response to international concern about the growing impact of disaster on individuals, communities and national development, which aims to reduce substantially loss of life as well as the social, economic and environmental losses caused to communities
and nations as a result of disasters. Again, the development of a National Climate Change Adaptation Stragegy has been agreed on as a trigger under the Natural Resources and Environmental Governance Programme in Ghana.
Secondly, 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 (fisheries, crop and animal farming etc.) 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 unfavourable climatic conditions for the realisation 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.
Finally, climate forecast and climate change scenarios for the country predict a more severe and frequent pattern of such drought and flood events. At present, there is broad international consensus that even if the world makes a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, the lag in the climate system means that the world is faced with decades of climate change due to the green house emissions already put into the atmosphere from industrialization activities.
The need to properly plan and carefully adopt a development path that ensures climate resilience and integrate adaptation measures into all facets of national development planning, particularly at the local level makes the preparation of a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy (NCCAS) all the more relevant.