Smallholder farmers in the Northern part of Ghana, West Africa, are experiencing unpredictable rainfall pattern.
The downpour occasionally becomes intense and causes floods, with smallholder farmers, especially women continuing to lose their livelihoods.
A latest report by ActionAid Ghana on farmer-led research into climate resilient strategies in 15 Districts of the Northern Ghana Integrated Development Project shows that a majority of farmers (89 per cent) affirmed having noticed changes in climate with 78 per cent of respondents holding the opinion that the rains come late.
The Report mentions “decreased income” and “water scarcity” as the most important effects of climate vulnerability on smallholder farmers, especially women.
Meanwhile, a majority of respondents (39.7 per cent) say they are “doing nothing” to adapt to the change.
“The general trend of late onset and early cessation of rains across the project districts points to the need for a complex basket of coping strategies to deal with the extreme events that are occasioned by the shortness of the growing season,” the Report said.
Agriculture remains an important sector of Ghana’s economy, contributing 20.6 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021.
About 90 per cent of the sector is dominated by smallholder farmers dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
Due to the nature of the agriculture practices adopted by smallholder famers in Ghana, they are vulnerable to climate change extreme events such as floods, droughts, and windstorms.
At a National Climate Change Seminar organised by the ActionAid Ghana in Accra, some smallholder farmers mainly women, who relied solely on farming to fend for their families decried the impact of erratic rainfall patterns and extreme weather conditions on their livelihoods.
Patience Bogkur, Leader of Women Farmers’ Movement, says most women in the Northern Region are unable to cultivate crops due to extreme weather conditions coupled with lack of climate-smart agricultural systems.
As world leaders, climate change negotiators and activists gather at the 27th UN Climate talks in Egypt, ActionAid Ghana is demanding developed countries to honour their pledge to support developing countries, which continue to bear the brunt of climate change, to build climate resilience.
In 2009, developed countries committed to jointly mobilise $100 billion annually in climate finance by 2020 to support developing countries in reducing emissions and adapting to climate change – but that pledge is yet to be honoured.
According to the UN, the world’s 46 least developed countries are home to more than one billion people but account for just four per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions yet, suffering the most of climate change.
The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group report on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, highlights the annual cost of adaptation in developing countries from $140 billion to $300 billion by 2030.
In an interview, Dr John Nkaw, Country Director, ActionAid Ghana, urges developed countries to “move beyond the rhetoric” and meet their obligations.
“We are full of praise of COP27 for accepting that loss and damage will be on the agenda. We are calling on the Conference of Parties for this year to move beyond the rhetoric to ensure that the polluter nations, industrialised countries of the West contribute significantly into the Climate Fund.
“There is the initial commitment to contribute the $100bn to help developing nations particularly those in Africa to effectively undertake adaption methodologies that will contribute towards building resilience and ensure that development projects are carried out,” he said.
Professor Elvis Asare-Bediako, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, calls for the deployment of climate-smart crops, including those that are temperature and drought resistant to help mitigate the vulnerability of smallholder farmers to climate change.
“When it is not raining, the crops should be able to yield enough fruits to support the farmers,” he says.
World leaders are discussing action to tackle climate change and fully implement the Paris Agreement at the COP27 climate summit at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
This year’s climate change discussions are crucial as the world battles with devastating floods and unprecedented heat waves, severe droughts and formidable storms. Millions of people are also facing economic, energy, and food crisis.
A report published by UN Climate Change ahead of COP27 shows that efforts remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
At the opening of the Conference on Sunday, the UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, asks governments to focus on transformational shift to implementation of the Paris Agreement and putting negotiations into concrete actions.
This article was produced with the support of Climate Tracker.