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Support local communities to adapt to climate change – Government urged

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Participants at a multi-stakeholder workshop on climate change adaptation have urged the government to engage and support local communities to adapt to climate change.

Organized by APRI -Africa Policy Research Institute (APRI), in collaboration with the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC), the workshop forms part of activities to share research lessons from the Project; “Climate Change Adaptation in Ghana: Strategies, Initiatives, and Practices.”

Dr Grace Mbungu, Head of the Climate Change Programme at APRI, said the Project aimed at understanding the progress, challenges and opportunities of the adaptation process in Ghana with a particular emphasis on local communities.
She said locally-led adaptation empowered the communities to make decisions that directly affected their lives and livelihoods for greater impact.

Dr Mbungu indicated that Ghana’s climate adaptation progress and actions risked being ineffective if they failed to adequately prioritise local-specific views, concerns and innovations.

“Local communities that are at the frontline of climate change impacts are resourceful, capable, have a deep understanding of their complexities, and are always innovating to respond to climate change in unique ways,” she said.

“They often just need funding, decision-making spaces or other support to deliver their effective adaptive solutions.”

Madam Ruka Sanusi, the Executive Director of the GCIC, said as Ghana intensified its implementation of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and the National Adaptation Policy Framework, it would be important to take advantage of the locally driven innovations, strategies and responses across the country.

“Locally driven efforts to inform adaptation planning and actions should become the norm rather than an exception in the implementation of the NDC,” she said.

Dr Albert Arhin, a Research Fellow at APRI and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, presented preliminary results of ongoing research and engagement with national stakeholders and local communities across the Northern, Middle belt, and coastal ecological zones.

The findings showed that communities were actively participating in different actions to adapt to the changing climate and its impact on their lives and livelihoods – but not without challenges.

Dr Arhin noted that climate-smart agriculture, community-based conservation actions and irrigation systems, use of energy-efficient cooking stoves, recycling of waste, and local home elevation were a few of the strategies exhibited by the respondents to the different impacts of climate change on their livelihoods.

However, he said the districts did not receive enough support for the design and implementation of climate change adaptation interventions, with the communities having limited access to the resources (financial, human, knowledge) as well as agencies to implement local innovative solutions effectively.

He concluded that the examples from the research provided important bedrock for Ghana; both central and local governments, to be deliberate in harnessing local knowledge, agency and power to support the adaptation efforts.
Dr Daniel Tutu Benefor, the Acting Director, Climate Change Unit, Environmental Protection Agency, highlighted key takeaways from the recently held climate change conference in Egypt (COP27) and their implications for Ghana’s progress towards advancing Locally Led Climate Change Adaptation.

He mentioned national priorities to include reducing vulnerability, building resilient infrastructure, strengthening early warning systems, and promoting livelihood opportunities for the youth and women in climate-vulnerable agriculture landscapes and food systems.

APRI is an independent and non-partisan African think tank, which researches key policy issues affecting African countries.

The GCIC, an institute of the Ashesi University, is a pioneering business incubator with a unique focus on developing SME ventures and entrepreneurs in Ghana’s ‘Green Economy.’

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