Friday, August 3, 2012

High Level Interaction on Climate Change and Plastic Waste Ends in Ghana

Minister Sherry Ayittey Addressing MMDCEs during the training workshop in Kumasi
The Minister for Environment, Science and Technology Ms. Sherry Ayittey has urged all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to make climate change resilient policy and sanitation cleanness the topmost priority in their development plans or programmes to spare the country from both natural and man-made disasters.
She observed that, the recurring floods in parts of the country had cost the country millions of cedis in reconstruction, repairs and relief items. The floods which she blamed on the indiscriminate disposal of plastic waste that choked the major water run-ways also cost Ghana millions of cedis to resettle flood displaced people in Accra and Northern Ghana.

“We need to go green to reduce the impact of climate change not only on livelihoods but on the national economy. We can not go forward if we continue to dispose plastic waste indiscriminately in the country”, she said.  The Minister said the only way to deal with plastic waste in the country was for people to  change their attitude to disposal of used plastics.

The minister said this when she addressed the District Chief Executives (DCEs), District Coordinating Directors (DCDs) and Planners during one of the series of a nationwide high level interaction on climate change and plastic waste in Ghana held in Kumasi.

The programme which sought to encourage the mainstream of climate change into development planning in Ghana was organised by two international organisation includes, Care International Ghana under the auspices of Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP) in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment Science and Teachnology (MEST), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Japan International Development Agency (JICA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The training programme was aimed to educate the government and public office holders on the need to mainstream climate resilient and sanitation cleanness into their development programmes at various levels. It was also to encourage physical and economic planning in the country that takes climate change and environmental and anitation cleanness into consideration.

The minister indicated the government of Ghana spent closed to amount of 62 billion old Ghana cedis on floods relief victims in the northern sector, central and western regions. This amount was said to be exclusive of various contributions made by the development partners and that Ghana has had her fair share of the harsh climate effects and could not wait to manage disasters anymore but takes proactive measurse to avoid them.

Ms. Ayittey commended Care International Ghana’s Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) for making impacts on the lives of rural dwellers in parts of northern and Upper East region.  ALP is implementating community based adaptation that includes education on climate variability and linking communities to agencies such as Ghana Meteorological Department (GMD), Ministry of Food and Agriculutre (MOFA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Savannah Agriculture Research Institute (SARI).
These agencies provide necesary information to farmers to plan their crop production. The minister urged the MMDCEs to urged to put in place environmental sound policy to deal with plastic waste to ensure environmental sustainability.
Manager of ALP, Mr. Romanus Gyang
The Manger for Care International Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) Mr. Romanus Gyang explained that the effects of climate change on livelihoods were too devastating to leave it for the governments alone to deal with. He said that while CARE International was collaborating with the government through the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP) it was also implementing communities based adaptation at various communities and supporting them to diversify their livelihoods in relation to climate change and their vulnerability. Explaining the effects of climate on national economy, Mr. Gyang stated that if nothing is done immediately the devastating effects of climate change and climate variability on the national economy in the near future would be great to bear.
The Ashanti Regional Minister Dr. Kwaku Agyeman-Mensah said that climate change represents a key challenge to the development of the country. He said the effects of climate change will increase the financial burdens of governments and limit their ability to provide infrastructure. He said agriculture sector has already been affected by the effects of climate change and called for action to reduce its effects on the people. This was contained a speech read on his behalf during the training workshop on climate change in Kumasi.

The president of the National Association of Local Government Authority (NALAC) Mr. Ebenezer Akuoko Frimpong pledged on behalf of the MMDCEs in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo region to mainstream climate change into local development programme. He observed that extreme climate variability in Ghana may grind development into a halt if nothing is done about it.

He cited rises in temperatures, low crop yield, flood and erractic rains and long droughts as some of the frightening signs of effects of climate change in Ghana.  He appealed to his colleague leaders of Local government authority to take climate change issues very serious to reduce its negative impact on livelihoods and development.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Climate Change: Failed Crops put Fears in Farmers

Picture: Millet farm performing poorly at Farfar                                                              Credit: Npong Francis

Farmers in Fafar, a farming community in the Garu-Tampane District of the Upper East Region have predicted food shortages, severe hunger and starvation in the near future if nothing is done to improve on the current traditional farming and cropping system.

According to the farmers, the traditional crops are failing them because of inconsistent rainfall and high temperatures and that something urgent ought to be done about crop failures to protect the livelihoods of the farmers to cope with the forseeable severity of the food situation. 

They however, called on the ministry for Food and Agriculture (MOFA) to support farmers with short duration or maturing, drought and heat tolerant crops and new technologies particularly irrigation system to support food production.

The farmers including women also complained about the none availability of farm inputs and that alternative fertilizer should be developed because chemical fertilizer which cost has made them more dependable instead of self suffcient should be replaced with cheap and effective ferlizer. The women in particularly indicated that the cost of the quantity of fertilizer they needed to produce an acre of maize today is more than what they were applying previous on the same piece of farmland and that ought to be looked by the goverment.    

They intimated that failure by the government to do something quick such as introducing drought tolerant variaty crops and short duratioon maturing crops would plounge the nation under food insufficient.

These farmers were contributing to discussions on food security, livelihoods development, agriculture and climate change adaptation at a community engagement meeting held at Farfar Community in the Garu Tempane District of the UER.
The programme which was organised by the Presbyterian Agriculture Station Garu (PAS-G) under the Care International Ghana’s Adaptation Learning Programme was to solicit information from the community on their livelihoods activities.

The assembly member for Farfar Electoral Area, Mr. Joseph Duut Yennukua thanked Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP) and Presbytarian Agricultural Station in Garu for bringing officers from various decentralized government agencies into the community. He pointed out that whose farming and livelihoods situations were deteriorating need urgent attention and support but it was difficult for them to acces such supports to improve on their lots.

He also called the Minister for Food and Agriculture, Hon. Kwesi Ahwoi to as a matter of urgency supply them with short duration improved crop variaties and extension officers to support their farming activities. The Upper East Regional Director of the Savanna Agriculture Research Station (SARI), Dr. Roger Kanton promised to supply the community with short duration (Abontem) and high quality protein maize variaties to improve on the crop production.

The Monitoring and Evaluation officer of CARE International Ghana, Mr. Thomas Ayamga explained that, the community engagement fora are initiatives by Adaptation Learning Programme to make social services available to community members to improve not only on livelihoods, but also help deepen governance, promote participatory democracy, bridge the relationship gap between the comunities and duty bearers and bring governance to the doorsteps of the communities.

He stated that, the fora were to support community to identify gaps and design their development action plans and strategies to enable benefit from currently ongoing programmes being implemented by the government and non government agencies.
Picture: farmer lamenting failure of crops during a community engagement forum at Farfar, Garu-Tampane District, Ghana.
The fora, which were held in eight communities including Zambulugu, Jawani, Demia &Saamini, Tariganga, Akara, Farfar and Kugri in the Northern and Upper East regions respectively also  sought to educate farmers on adaptation and mitigation measures against the effects of climate change and climate variabilities.

It engaged decentralized departments such as the district assemblies (DAs), Ghana Health Service (GHS), Ghana Education Service (GES), Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), and National Disaster Management Organisations (NADMO) and Meteological Agency (GMA) were to enable them respond to the communties felt needs such as the basic infrastructure including roads, water, health posts, schools and agricultural extention services among other public services to support the people prepare adequately for climate change adaptation, explained the Local Governance and Advocacy officer for Care International Ghana, Francis Babongte Avura.

Mr. Avura stated that, the process was not only to deepen participatory democracy and bridge the relationship gap between the decentralized offices and educate the communities on the available opportunities to be sourced to improve on their lots but was also to gather testimonies from communities the changes that took place and impacted negatively on their economic and social lives.

The programme Manager for Adaptation Learning Programme (ALP), Mr Romanus Gyang who also participated keenly in the processes told the Enquirer in an interview that ALP was a community driven and life changing programme and that the programme was supporting vulnerable communities to adapt to the effects of climate change and climate variabilities for sustainable livelihoods.

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.