Author: Amponsem Joshua.
As the saying goes,” Poverty is hierarchical but smog is democratic”, many Ghanaians and other individuals globally think they are safe because they do not produce so much greenhouse gases and therefore they are safe from climate change effects. However, air has no boundaries in the atmosphere and so are the clouds above us. The planet Earth is in constant motion- rotation and revolution, thus, air is distributed globally. The effects of global warming affects every nation, directly or indirectly and so it should be a global responsibility.
The high level of ignorance and illiteracy on the side of most individuals makes it difficult to communicate the need to act on climate change – adaptation and mitigation. Some incidents in local communities, however, makes it easier to communicate climate change impacts and call for necessary action.
Explaining, global warming effects and how the poles are melting; even, the melting of the ice cap on the mountain Everest- which in turn increases sea level in countries that are really far from the location of melting, serves as evidence for persons who doubt the democratic nature of climate impact. Bit by bit, West Africa’s coasts are eroding away, the dry land being covered by the water by a destructive mix of natural erosion and human meddling.
Globally, half of the world’s population resides within 200 km of coasts and 70% of megacities are located along the coast. Which shows the importance of the coast in location of major cities and industries. Resurgent economies like most countries in West Africa, if we loose our coasts due to climate effects, then how do we expand in our economies? From Senegal to Nigeria, scientists say eroding beaches will soon pose an unavoidable threat to booming coastal populations. Guinea-Bissau has already lost one of its finest beaches to erosion, and Gambia’s capital Banjul had to borrow millions of dollars to regenerate a beach crucial for keeping the capital connected to the country’s roads.
In Ghana, a glimpse of a threatening future in response to climate change can be seen in Totope. A town situated with a lagoon to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, the village of less than three thousand is cursed by its geography. Salt water seeps through the makeshift landfill that Totope rests on. Villagers walk on soggy ground, dodging creeks that run between houses, and they hang their possessions from ceiling rafters to keep them above their often-wet floors.
From 2007, there was a gradual change in Ghana’s rainfall pattern but most people failed to recognize it. After the Akosombo damp dried up in 2007, and the excessive rainfall that led to the overflow of Ghana’s major water bodies- In 2010, for the first time in 20 years, the level of the Akosombo Dam Reservoir (which provides electricity to Ghana and its neighbouring West African countries), rose to above its maximum, flooding communities close to the Volta River. An estimated 378 000 people were displaced as a result of the floods.
In 2014, continuous down pour during the rainy season causes lots of threat to the countries agricultural sector and also residents who lived close to water bodies. The countries National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), aided displaced settlements victims with compensation (money) to enhance resettlement. However, there is no adaptation or mitigation plan to combat climate change effects in the country. Our systems do not work effectively, the country prefers paying sums of money to compensate victims of flooding and other climate change related disasters rather than investing into sectors that can help mitigate these impacts or disasters. People build around water bodies and our coastal dwellers are also involved in beach sand mining which is a very dangerous act to indulge in at such an estimated increasing of sea levels globally.
Ghana recently launched the climate change policy this year and there has been so many summits and symposium organized by various organizations and institution (Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, Ghana Youth Climate Coalition, Ecoscript, Green Africa Youth Organization, Leadership in Conservation Africa, Universities, Forestry Commission, etc.) to draw attention to the diverse impacts Of climate change on our dear nation.
The agricultural sector which contributes a lot to the GDP of the country is now being affected due to unpredictable rainfall pattern which has also led to the announcement of the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Policy for some category of farmers of which we hope it will extend to all farmers soon enough.
Despite all these challenges and impacts of climate change, the country has not been able to communicate climate change impacts and the call for climate action to its citizens. Is it lack of understanding? Or we just don’t prioritize our environmental safety! Ghana as a developing country in 2014 has reported over 1,000 cases of cholera in about two months. Filth is engulfing us, and we all need to understand the democratic impact of having an unsafe environment. The rich can choose not to eat at any place but the rich doesn’t decide the kind of air he wants to breath, it’s about time we prioritize our environment and implement the set rules and legalities assigned to ensure a safe environment for our incoming generations.
We should be “ecocentric” in keeping our communities clean. If you keep your house and its surroundings clean and your neighbour does the same, together we will have a clean community and thus, a clean Ghana. Public education should be welcomed and introduced to our rural and coastal communities who usually regard water bodies as dumping site which prevents flow and causes lots of impact aside the trending climate change impacts that hits the country.
NGOs and other private sectors should step up and all call for climate action, educating the public about the effects. Climate Change is not a myth, as some do regard it as such due to illiteracy, and together we must create much awareness and help communicate the message to call until we have a national and global climate action movement.