Much of the country is covered by a dense tropical rain forest which tails off into savanna and grassland towards the north.
Agriculture production is Ghana’s main source of employment with over 70% of the population earning its livelihood from this sector. It generates about 75% of the export earnings of the country and a major source of food and government savings on revenues. The nation largely subsists on agriculture especially cocoa, which happens to be its main cash crop and a turnout of 25% of national GDP.
Climate change and its impact on water resources
A recent government assessment showed that a sharp reduction of rainfall and runoff is expected to reduce crop harvests. As already noted, an overall economic progress of the country depends to a large extent on the agriculture sector therefore climate change is serious.
Although Ghana is endowed with abundant water resources, the availability of this vital resource is changing significantly each year. Climate change and variability is already affecting Ghana’s water resources. There is disruption of agricultural systems, floods in coastal areas, and lowering water levels around the Volta River delta, which provides around 80 per cent of the country’s electricity supply.
Ghana is already vulnerable to floods and droughts that damage property and lives. Flooding events in northern Ghana alone, in recent times, have had serious consequences and sent a strong signal of the need for better flood control infrastructure in this part of the country.
Consequences of the high temperatures
A number of studies on climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessment done in Ghana reveal that average annual temperatures have been rising steadily in 5 of the 6 agro-ecological zones of Ghana. This trend is projected to continue into the future. The impacts of the rising temperatures have led to:
- The drying of some rivers in the dry season which were hitherto perennial rivers
- More intensive rainfall events such as the rainfall and flood events 2008 and 2009 which wrecked havoc on life and property in parts of the capital Accra.
- Frequent events of drought leading to low levels of water in the Akosombo dam.
- Floods, such as the one that occurred in 2007 which affected about 332,600 people and caused the death of 56 persons in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions and parts of Western region, and
- Unpredictable weather, especially late start of the rainfall season and or shorter rainy season. All these are evidence of the impact of climate change in Ghana.
The inception phase in 2011 will help design the detailed action for WACDEP in Ghana in collaboration with the key stakeholders. The primary focus should include the building up of a national Steering Committee for the programme and the promotion of the project through a launching meeting. The programme should also build on the work done by Climate Development Knowledge Network (CDKN) in Ghana. Capacity building for IWRM implementation, adaptation and climate resilience should be a major component of WACDEP. WACDEP should focus on raising awareness on climate change and variability, and information in Northern Ghana, and support communities to reduce livelihood vulnerability, develop adaptive and coping strategies in water resources through the lenses of IWRM. Climate forecast and climate change scenarios predict more severe and frequent pattern of such drought/flood events.