For most people, “it is warm these days” but they do not give a thought to why, and its effect on the general population. The truth is, Ghana is experiencing rising temperatures and some ex1perts have attributed its impact as one of the major causes of food spoilage in homes.
It is also affecting the sleep at night.
Madam Lucy Yaa Kwakyebia, 60, who, like most Ghanaian women prefer to cook more than the family needs in anticipation of an unexpected visitor, has become alarmed at the rate of food spoilage she had experienced in recent times.
Grandmother Kwakyebia recounts that, “these days I pound fufu and after few hours, it becomes very soft. I am experiencing similar incidence with cooked rice, it becomes watery and slimy when I cook it in the morning and forget to heat it in the evening or put it in the fridge.
“When I began to cook in my teens `and even as recent as the 2000s fufu could survive overnight but same cannot be said today. Even the soup begins to foam when left for the next day”.
A worried Kwakyebia who cannot understand the cause of the food spoilage has attributed it to ‘ghosts’ visiting her house to spiritually eat the food. Her notion changed when her bowl of stew and soup kept in the fridge begun to mould after four days.
The World Health Organisation has confirmed that changes in weather patterns will impact on food safety, where temperature changes modify food safety risks associated with food production, storage and distribution.
Senior Research Scientist at the Food Research Institute of Council for Scientific Industrial Research, Mrs Anthonia Andoh-Odoom says increase in temperature has become one of the major causes of spoilage of cooked food in recent.
Mrs Andoh-Odoom states that bacteria grows most rapidly in the range of temperatures between five degrees Celsius and 60 degrees Celsius, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. When it is left under none of the required preserved temperature, the bacteria doubles and produce toxins, which is poisonous to humans upon consumption.
WHO says unsafe food containing harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances, causes more than 200 diseases ranging from diarrhoea to cancers.
An estimated 600 million almost one in 10 people in the world fall ill after eating contaminated food and 420 000 die every year, resulting in the loss of 33 million healthy life years.
In addition to effects of rising temperatures on food, scientists say this is affecting night sleep and this has been confirmed in a number of interviews conducted with some people.
Mrs Sandra Buta, mother of two in Tamale disclosed to GNA that her kids Elorm Buta, and Amenuveve Buta sweat profusely and cannot sleep. “Sometimes I am torn between forgoing the risk in using an electric fan to enable my children get some sleep or the children developing skin rashes”.
Mr Geoffery Buta, a Ghanaian Times Newspaper photo Journalist, whose family are experiencing the heat asserts that, “When I first started working in Tamale some seven years ago, the maximum temperature I recall was around 38 during the hot season. Now it is about 40. Even after a heavy down pour one still feels a bit of heat,” he said.
Deputy Director and Head of Research and Applied Metrology at the Ghana Meteorological Agency, Mrs Francesca Martey confirms that figures recorded for daily minimum and maximum temperature show that there is temperature increase throughout the country.
Mr Martey says, officially, observed and scientific findings confirmed that average night temperature has inched-up by a degree throughout the country. This is an accumulation of 0.3 over the past 30 years.
She said ideally night temperature was expected to be the lowest and by nature it is supposed to aid people to sleep after a hard day’s work, unfortunately, the increase cannot allow people to get a sound sleep. “The situation is not mild it is a serious issue”, Martey added.
Daytime temperatures have also witnessed an increase from about 38 to 40 degrees. The two-degree rise occurred over the past three decades with a decade cumulative increase of 0.7 degrees Celsius.
The experience in Ghana is not unique because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC), special report has revealed that the world has recorded approximately 1.0 degrees of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8 degrees to 1.2 degrees.
IPCC is an interstate body of the United Nations dedicated to providing the world with objective, scientific view of climate change and its political and economic impact.
There are projections that temperature will continue to rise in coming years due to extreme global temperature rise in response to high levels of greenhouse gases and would impact on continents including Africa.
Locally, not much has been done to ameliorate the increase in temperature, but rather human activities including; indiscriminate burning; industrial emissions and deforestation are compounding the effect making humans vulnerable.
Martey said ten years ago, the principal streets of Accra had ornamental trees, which served as a cover for pedestrians but now majority of the tress have been cleared.
“There were many areas that had green vegetation serving as carbon sink and protected the sun rays from hitting the earth surface directly, but now due to construction activities all these places have been cleared and paved, the reason why we are feeling the heat. The reflectivity is pronounced on bear ground than vegetation”, she said.
Martey said, “Accra was green, but now it has changed to brown. Look at the N1, there is no single tree on that stretch meanwhile, trees and other vegetation were cleared to make way for the road,”
Records show that, Accra is developing at the expense of urban vegetation. The City is becoming brown instead of green. It was found that between 1986 and 2013, 42.53 km2 of vegetation was lost representing 64.6 per cent of total vegetation in 1986.
At the national level, , Minister of Environment, Science Technology and Innovation, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng is worried that, about 135,000 hectares of forest is being destroyed every year but only 20,000 hectares are afforested per annum.
Using Chad as an example where cattle herds were migrating to other countries including; Ghana due to drought and excessive degradation, he projected that, “at the rate of environmental destruction if we continue on this path in 30 years we may not have forest and for survival sake we may be compelled to migrate to another jurisdiction”.
Professor Alfred Oteng-Yeboah, Chair of National Biodiversity Committee expressed worry about the fast depletion and extinction of some floral and fauna species as a result of various destructive activities.
Against this background, Prof Frimpong-Boateng says the public must desist from destructive activities such as indiscriminate bush burning and deforestation adding, that government through the Forestry Commission had initiated steps to plant trees.
The country could not afford to continue to destroy nature as President Nana Addo had been appointed a co-chair of the Sustainable Development Goals that has environment preservation and sustainable use as one of its primary objective.
Mrs Martey recommended that government should factor tree planting into all forms of construction works especially building of roads.
As has been advised, let every Ghanaian should resolve to grow at least a tree to keep the temperature in check.
Regarding food spoilage, there is the need to properly preserve food in the required temperature to avoid food poisoning.