Saturday, July 7, 2012


Section of CSOs member reviewing ALP
The Civil Sociaety Organisations (CSOs) have commended the government for constituting climate change department within the ministry of Environment, Science and Technology to handle climate change related isssues and prompting the parliament to constitute parliamentary select committee on climate change to be responsible for reviewing, recommending and initiating climate change resilient policies and programmes.
They also commended Care International for taken lead role in championing climate change issues in Africa.
The constitution of a parliamentraty select committee and special department on climate change would further the ducation and formulation of climate change resilient policies and programmes to help the poor and vulnerable communities adapt to theeffects of climate change and climate variabilities.
The civil society organisations commended the government during a two-day climate change adaptation learning programme (ALP) review meeting organised by Care International Ghana held in Tamale.
The meeting which brought togather civil sociatyorganisations working in environment, food security, water and sanitaion, community development and capacity building organisations across the country reviewed climate change adaptation learning programme being implemented by Care International Ghana through partner organisations, assessed climate change situation and it impacts on livelihoods.
They also reviewed and evaluated food and water situation, and how far agriculture sector fared for the past five years and climate change variabilities impact on livelihoods on the poor.
Members of the CSOs point out that a step by the government to constitute parliamentary select committee to champion climate change issues in Ghana was an indication that the nation’s leadership had recognized the need for comprehensive policy and programme on climate change to reduce impacts on livelihoods.
The coordinator for Youth Volunteers for the Environment (YVE), Mr. Lovans Owusu-Takyi who also commended the government for the move said the climate change was a threat to sustainable livelihood and development and needed attention.
He said that the effects of climate change were greater and disasterous and that any action by the government to deal with the issue should not be politicise.
Addressing participants, the manager of Care Adaptation Learning Programme for Africa, (ALP), Mr. Romanus Gyan explained that ALP is a life changing programme that seeks to build the capacities of vulnerable communities and households to adapt to the effects of climate change and climate variability.
He said that the programme was using what he called “community based adaptation approaches” which centered on four key elements including promoting climat resilient livelihoods strategies, building capacities of local NGOs and local public institutions, disaster risk reduction strategies and addressing underlying causes of vulnerability through social mobilization for empowerment and advocacy to influence quick policies implementations and intervetions. The Manger told the Enquirer in an interveiw that climate change does not only needs cash but governmental and individual and corporate institutional actions. He said “Coping with effects of climat change will demand support and willingness and result oriented adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce the impact of climate chnage on people’s livelihoods”.
He said that, it is against this background that, CARE International Ghana has introduced the Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) in northern and Upper East Regions of Ghana to support rural but poor and vulnerable women to cope with the effects of climate change and climate variability.
The Adaptation Learning programme, which is currently running in five communities in these regions, also seeks to empower women in micro financing activities to reduce their vulnerabilities and expand economic viable ventures within these areas to support people’s livelihoods improvement.
The programme manager said that, ALP is expected to cover about ninety rural communities in the two regions of Ghana targeting about 5,400 poor rural women to help transformed rural economies to better the livelihoods of rural dwellers and at the same time cushion them against the effects of global warming.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Government presents Climate Change Policy framwork to Ghanaian

The Ghana Government through the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST), has developed a policy framework on climate change.

To facilitate the polishing of the framework, the ministry held a stakeholders, consultative meeting that brought together diplomatic corps, security agencies, women groups and the academia, to discuss the draft policy to help the country cope with Climate Change.

The Minister for Environment, Science and Technology, Sherry Ayittey, stated that since the Copenhagen Conference in 2009, stakeholders have worked in a concerted manner to come out with a common national vision and guidelines that will guide the country in dealing with the issue of Climate Change, which threatens lives, the existence and economic progress.

"We aspire to ensure systematic integration of climate change into national development processes for sustainable development, we want our sectors to develop efficient reporting, communication and awareness programmes and we want to provide a national voice for Ghanaians to contribute to the climate change debate both at home and abroad," she said.

The Minister said the draft National Climate Change Policy hinged on seven main themes including, Governance and Co-ordination; Capacity Building; Research and Knowledge Management; Finance; International Co-operation; Communication; Monitoring and Reporting.

Ms. Ayittey said the signs of Climate Change are obvious to even the less discerning members of society today and the scenarios are set to manifest even more forcefully in the coming years.

"We are in November and we all expected to feel some dry air or see signs of harmattan but we are experiencing intermittent rains," she explained, and added, climate change could undermine all the investments Ghana has made over the past years to reach a middle income status.

The Minister, therefore, commended the National Climate Change Committee for working with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to integrate climate concerns into the 2011 budget.

"Today is an opportunity for all of us to comment on, contribute to, express opinions and views, review portions of the text and if need be generally enrich it," she encouraged, announcing that the Ministry intends to subject the policy framework to international discussions as well.

Professor Chris Gordon, Head of the Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies at the University of Ghana, said Ghana's economy is tied to climatic changes since many people, especially in the rural areas, depended on the environment for their livelihood.

He noted that Ghana's response to Climate Change mattered to the rest of the world and explained that the policy framework aimed at building a climate resilient society, adding, "We need to make sure that our development is climate compatible."

Prof. Gordon urged government to embark on outreach programmes to the grassroots to enable them to understand and possibly adjust their lifestyles.

Nana Kobina Nketiah V, Chief of Essikado Traditional Area, who chaired the forum, emphasised that Climate Change is a challenge to the very existence as human beings.

"Climate change will have an impact on all of us and we should all be part of the solution," he said.

Is Broadcasting Groundnuts on Farmland Right?

Farmers now broadcast groundnuts – how productive is it? 

A look at the agronomic and socio-economic implications

In order to achieve optimum yield for every crop, there is a recommended plant population. It is easy to get the appropriate plant population by planting the crop in rows.
Groundnut is a very important cash crop in all farming families in areas where the crop has a potential thereby increasing household income and food security.

However, farmers in their attempt to cultivate this important crop have resorted to a practice which requires serious considerations to ascertain its productivity. Thus, an agronomic and socio-economic study was conducted into the practice in selected communities in Karaga and Yendi districts where the crop is cultivated.

Findings from study

Results show that both the haphazard planting and the broadcasting methods had significantly lower yield than the dibbling at recommended spacing (60 x 5 cm ) on flat ground and in rows, even though the same quantity of seed was used. For one thing, this is probably because there was no even spread of the seeds to efficiently utilize both the above and below soil resources Secondly, crowding at some spots while other spots were sparse allowed weed growth, and weed control was difficult and time consuming. These factors result in low yields compared to the dibbling.

In all the districts the dibbling yielded higher than the broadcasting. However, in some districts this may partly be due to enhanced rainfall.

Disadvantages of broadcasting.

      Difficult to achieve the right plant population.
      Refilling is difficult if there is drought and germination is bad
      Cultural practices in terms of weeding, fertilizer application, harvesting etc are also difficult to perform.

Even though it is early to conclude using one year data, dibbling at the recommended spacing will always give higher yields no matter the precision at which the broadcasting is carried out!
Can our media friends help us inform the general public, especially our local farmers on the need to do dibbling instead of broadcasting?

A Paper released by Ghana Communities Development Association (GDCA

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vice President Hands Over 100 tractors to Northern Farmers

The vice president John Dramani Mahama has reiterated the government’s commitment to revamping agriculture in the northern sector to offer not only job opportunities to the unemployed youth but also help improve on the socio-economic conditions of the people.

Northern Sector which includes, Upper East, West, Northern and part of Brong Ahafo region is said to be poverty stricken area and lacks basic infrastructure such as good roads, quality education, clean drinking water among other things that could support the development of people socio-economic conditions. 

The government, he said was opening northern sector to investment through the Savannah Accelerated Authority (SADA), the government programme established to bridged the development gap between the north and south.

The Vice president reiterated this when he handed over 100 farm tractors and implements to farmers in northern sector to support this year’s farming activities.

The tractors which were imported by the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority and aimed to help realize northern sector agriculture development dream set by the government would benefit about 16, 000 farmers within the SADA operational zone. 

The Vice President said the government was doing all that it could to ensure the revamp of northern agriculture which he described as the backbone of Ghana;s economy. 

“The development of  agriculture in northern sector is still the most important dream of the government. This tractors we are handing over today is to support the government’s initiatives aimed at improving sustainable agriculture that will ensure food security in the country”, the Vice president said.

He was optimistic that the government’s initiatives including the activities of SADA would turn northern Ghana into an investment destination to deal with poverty, unemployment and youth migration situation in the area. He however, advised farmers to handle the tractors well and adopt regular maintenance culture to ensure high efficiency and effectiveness of the tractors. 

The Vice president assured Ghanaians the government support to improving socio-economic well-being of the citizenry. He appealed to Ghanaians to co-exist peaceful and support the government to create enabling environment to ensure development and progress of the entire country. 

The Board Chairman of the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority, (SADA) Mr. Alhassan Andani said the tractor distribution is the third largest initiative by SADA aimed to propel agriculture sector in its operational area.
He said that SADA was developing agriculture after it was identified as leading driving force for the country’s economy and that when the sector is well developed, it would not only solved the food insecurity problems facing the country but help would create jobs, and reduce youth migration from the north to south in search for non-existing jobs.
The programme brought together farmers, Ministers of State, MMDCEs, and other stakeholders to witness the handing over ceremony held at the premises of Ghana Cotton Company in Tamale.     

Chemical Fertilizer Impedes Development of African Agriculture

Life has been a constant struggle for African families since the collapse of colonialism in the early 1980s.  People living on this continent have had no choice but to live a hard life in order to sustain themselves.
One of the major problems in Africa is the lack of existing industry to engage the teeming youth in employment. Very few industries built by the colonial masters have survived the test of time due to the fact that the technologies and expertise required to manage such industries were never transferred to local Africans, who were engaged to work in these industrial set-ups.

Ghanaian official hands over donated fertilizer to farmers at Kpasenkpe. Photo by Npong Francis
Climate change presents another challenge to the struggling continent whose people have been living under a hornet’s nest of social, economic, and political systems.  These systems are a mixture of western and conservative traditions, making these structures a most complex system to live with.

The continent has been struggling over the years to cope with changing times, conditions and ultimately the effect of climate change on existing struggles which include poverty, food insecurity, unstable economies, an unprecendentedly high rate of maternal and infants deaths, malaria infections, malnutrition and under development.

Despite the crippling maladies, the continent is noted for the largest farmlands in the world, and provide favourable conditions for the growth of almost every single crop on earth.  Yet in spite of this, Africa faces severe food shortages and malnutrition – the cause of which has been associated with floods, drought and heatwaves.

A community submerged in water during the Central Gonja flooding in northern Ghana. Photo by Npong Francis

The weather patterns have also changed – rainfall has become erratic and unpredictable, and there exists considerable weather predictions forecasting  difficulties for yielding crops.  As a result, farmlands have been left to the mercy of climate conditions which determines what can be produced and when. There are also the considerably long droughts and thunderstorms which destroy farms and crops in Africa.

One should not forget that man is equally liable to extinction, in much the same way that the planet’s flora and fauna face challenges to survive in a rapidly changing environment.  The inability of 21st century man to “think and act green” is leaving people with no option but to pick up weapons to fight for and secure resources which will support their livelihood.

There is evidence that Africa’s food is in short supply. Water scarcity is also hitting a crisis level. The civil strikes taking place on the continent today are directly linked to the mismanagement of resources and the inability of African leaders to utilise existing resources to meet the development needs of people.
It has become evident that developing agricultural potential in Africa may be the solution to the challenges which face the deprived continent.

The world food programme (WFP) report indicated that the world’s food is in short supply, and this has begun to stir conflict over land and other natural resources. Food donations to the WFP has dwindled over the years which has prompted the UN body to pump billions of dollars to purchase food supply to salvage communities facing crisis.
While food was in short supply, water scarcity across the globe has become eminent. In Sub-Saharan Africa for example, conflicts over resources – particularly water and land are begining to take shape, prompting people to look for weapons – triggering an influx of light arms; as well as mass youth migration from the rural communities to urban centers to search for non-existant ‘greener’ pastures. Youth migration is also notoriously associated with the spread of HIV/AIDS, rape, teenage pregnancies, sexual transmitted diseases (STDs), armed robbery, street-ism, drug abuse, indiscipline and the creation of slums in cities.
Between the 17th and 20th Centuries, the potency of Africa’s land to support the development of agriculture was very high. Within the agricultural sector, both crops and animals were doing well until chemical fertilizers were introduced onto African soil. Now, chemical fertilizers and other agronomic chemicals have contributed immensely to the food shortages in Africa. The use of chemical fertilizers and agronomic chemicals have worsened agriculture in Africa and made  farmers more dependent.

During an exclusive interview with Mr. Abdul-Razak Sanni, an Agriculture extension officer based in Northern Ghana,  he had the following to say:  “Now if you apply one bag of fertilizer on a piece of farmland this year, the next year the same quantity can not produce the same result”.  He said that fertilizers could increase farm yield, however this makes farmers dependent on agro-chemicals to be able to yield crops.
This he said negatively impacted farmers’ income levels in developing countries and contributed to soil fertility.

Most of the chemical fertilizers and agrochemicals are supplied to Africa by US and European companies.  It has been said that chemical fertilizer is the major contributor to the decline in African agriculture. If the plight of African hunger is to be solved, then the impact of chemical fertilizer needs to be taken more seriously.

Irrespective of the motivation behind US and European companies in introducing chemical fertilizers and agro-chemicals to African farmers, the result has made the already poverty stricken farmers dependant, instead of independant.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

G8 Must Act on Africa Food Security and Sustainability

Four African leaders are participating in this year’s G8 summit at Camp David on May 19 for a discussion session on accelerating progress towards food security in Africa, a statement inviting the president of the Republic of Ghana has stated.
The statement signed by the White House Spokesperson Jay Carney indicated that President John Evans Atta Mills of Ghana, President Yaha Boni of Benin, Tanzania president Jakaya Kikwete and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi would be taken part in food security session of the summit.
The summit discussions will centre on security will also discuss extensively on food security in Africa and the world at large and how to tackle the looming crisis in the wake of climate change and global warming.
This is not the first time Africa leaders are participating in a high level meetings internationally, however such meetings often do not bring Africa deprivation to an end. Mostly, members of the G8 earn political points with vague promises to elevate the poorest continent from deprivation.
Several of such meetings promises to Africa never came through. In certain situations the promise(s) came but with restrictions that tied the hands of the leaders to utilize such support effectively. “The word conditionality that is often embedded in agreements sign between the developed and developing nations is worrying”, says Albert Meinbah, expert in Africa development.
The meeting which comes at the time the world leaders are preparing for Rio+20 Earth Summit will need to focus also on how to reverse climate change and global warming as evidences of the situation abound. Climate change is worsening the plights of Africa continent. Despite the evidence of climate change increasing burdens on the poor people, G8 members continue to remain relatively silence over Africa food insecurity and sustainable development situation.
Africa, though played crucial roles in world affairs, it was still struggling to gain a strong voice at international level. Why must decisions be taken on behalf of Africa without her involvement? This is certainly amounts to “colonialism” and “suppression”. Recent resolved by G8 members to allow Africa leaders take part their summit is laudable however, the voice of the continent must not always be down played recognising that problems in Africa affect the world.
If G8 members are concern about food insecurity in Africa it must as a matter of urgency ban the sale of unacceptable agro-chemicals including chemical fertilizers, which is said have helped destroy farmlands of the poor continent. These chemicals are produce by G8 members most specifically for the poor continent farms.
G8 must also support the continent to reclaim rights to Rio+20, and other international agreements that will elevate the continent from the back bench to front runners that push them rethink of their responsibilities to their own people. Food Sovereignty in Africa should be seen as a collective responsibility.
The United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) highlights two Approaches to respond to the causes and impacts of climate change: mitigation of climate change by reducing Green House Gas emissions (GhGs) particularly carbon dioxide and methane; adaptation by limiting the negative impacts of climate change on social and ecological systems.
Africa which just came out from the net of colonialism will need helping hands to survive the brunt of climate change. It need to be supported to adapt and mitigate.  Waiting for the continent to however develop her responses to global warming to reduce the impacts of the changes which had affected agriculture causing food insecurity will not only affect the progress of the continent but the entire world.
Effective climate policy response sets; the adaptation and mitigation are costly cheaper than managing the aftershocks hence the need for policy support.
The G8 countries which comprises France, Britain, Italy, Germany, Canada, Japan, the US and Russia are most industrialized nations whose progresses were done at the expanse of weaker nations admittedly.
The involvement of Africa leaders in food security discussion during the G8 summit must necessarily help prepare the roadmap that will lead the continent out of the foreseeable climate change impacts and reduce the vulnerability of the continent.
The time has come for Africa leaders not to fold hands at international meetings but keep reminding the world particularly the G8, their role and responsibilities to the current stage of Africa and demand accountability.
Inviting Africa leaders to partake in high level meetings such as the G8 does not matter as far as the problems persist in Africa. What is important in African participating in such meetings is to allow them discuss the problems faced the continent while the meeting discuss, design and implement roadmap to eliminate poverty, hunger, malnutrition, and infant and maternal deaths.
Africa deserves such recognition and assistance and G8 cannot afford to fail the continent again but must support its agriculture for sustainable food security, support the development of her industries and management of her natural and human resources to enable her cope with the shocks of climate change.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

CARE International trains Journalists on Digital Photo Story Telling Techniques

Francis Npong, Nalerigu

Mr. Romanus Gyang CARE International ALP Manager
As part of efforts to building local capacities to adapt to effects of climate changeCARE International-Ghana has adopted Digital Photo Story Telling (DPST) as a process for helping vulnerable communities to prioritize and share their climate change adaption strategies.

The Country manager for Care International-Ghana Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) Mr. Romanus Gyang explained that DPST will be deplored by CARE International not only as a monitory and evaluation tool but also to access the impact of climate change on livelihoods and how communities were coping with or without interventions.

Mr. Gyang was addressing participants during the trainer of trainees DPST training workshop organized for some selected journalists from the Northern and Upper East regions at Nalerigu in the East Mampurusi District.

According to him, the aim of the training was to change how climate change adaptation issues are communicated. He observed that though climate change was critical social, economic, health and development issues, communicating climate change issues were poor among policy makers.

“Though climate change is most compelling issue today, communicating climate change issues among policy makers, research institutions and governments is appalling”, he said.

CARE International he said is exploring DPST as innovative ways to communicate the issues of climate change adaptation to community members and the general public.

“DPST is adopted by CARE International to explain the complicated subject using photos and mini films”, he said.

The Manager of ALP also stressed that climate change was a threat to livelihoods, economic development, food security, peace and stability in Africa and needed to be prioritized.

Digital Photo Story Telling is an ideal tool for not only monitory and evaluation but also effective communication tool that can support communities and vulnerable groups to effectively communicate their plight to the world, according to the facilitator and trainer, Ms. Hanne Tornager.

Ms. Hanne Tronager, CARE International Communication Consultant 
Ms. Tornager, a communication specialist and consultant for CARE Denmark ALP took the participants through to produce three digital photo stories in Zambulugu community. The DPST produced focused on deforestation, Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) and advocacy using local persons as guest artists.

The DPST produced are likely to be broadcast on social media by CARE International to reinforce the effects of climate change on the poor and rural folks.

The stories will also be used by local communities, civil society organizations and CARE to more easily share the views of often-marginalized and vulnerable people who are most impacted by a changing climate. 

The digital stories (shown as mini films) can also create spaces for dialog with other community members, local civil society and government institutions in ways that other materials with similar information might not.

The DPST will support ALP’s M&E process by working with community members who have undertaken participatory exercises to identify and analyze their vulnerabilities and capacities to climate change impacts, plan their adaptation strategies and have started to implement them.

ALP will use its participatory monitoring methods to help the groups prioritize their top three adaptation topics - which give them most information on how much and how well they are succeeding to adapt to climate change. The first stories provide a “baseline” for them to record the most important aspect of adaptation that they want to explain, and track over the course of the project.

 Stories may include their current and past situation, how the group feels the impacts of climate change in terms of livelihoods, socially, changes in risks and other change, what they are already doing about it, how and why, challenges and opportunities they face etc, according to what the group finds most important to tell.   The group can then select up to 3 people who will represent them in the workshop to develop their story.

CARE International’s Climate Change Adaptation and Learning Programme (ALP) seeks to increase the capacities of vulnerable communities and households to adapt to the effects of climate change using what they called community based adaptation approach.

The community based adaptation approach hinged on four key elements; promoting climate resilient livelihoods strategies, building capacities of local NGOs and local public institutions, disaster risk reduction strategies and addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability through social mobilization for empowerment and advocacy to influence policies implementations.

Journalists: Right to Left: Kassim Abdallah and Ebo Bruce Quansah
The Care ALP’s overarching goal is also to increase the capacity of vulnerable households in Sub-Saharan Africa to adapt to climate variability and change. It is being implemented in 40 communities in Ghana, Niger, Mozambique and Kenya by CARE International and its local partner organizations.

ALP uses Community Based Adaptation (CBA) as its main approach - developing innovations in CBA, facilitating learning from experiences and advocating for CBA in local, national to global policies and plans.