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Ghanaians need to be aware about climate change

Albert Oppong-Ansah

"Earthly things have changed and it is because we have started cutting down trees everywhere," said middle-aged Lariba Mohammed, a vegetable farmer near Tamale, the capital of the Northern Region, 658 km north of the Ghanaian capital Accra.

Lariba, a mother of five children, is only one of the speakers at a community meeting on the declining rains that had affected agricultural production in the north part of the West African country.

The declining railfalls led to reduction of yields and, as such, lives of the farming communities in north Ghana have not been improved, rather getting worse.

Experts said that northern Ghana, which covers 40 percent of the landmarks of the country, was hit the hardest by climate change.

With seven out of 10 residents living below the poverty line, north Ghana also have been challenged by tribal violences, land and religious conflicts, high illiteracy rate, uncontrolled migration among the youth, hunger and disease, under deprivation and ignorance.

Food, nutrition and income securities have also been faced by most households, with women, the disabled and children being the most affected by such poverty situations which may affect the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

Indeed the issue of climate change, which is number one casual factor affecting agricultural production, has come to stay and may get worse if nothing concrete is done to arrest the situation.

Climate change affects more than just a change in the weather, it refers to seasonal changes over a long period of time.

These climate patterns play a fundamental role in shaping natural ecosystems and the human economies and cultures that depend on them.

Because so many systems are tied to climate, a change in climate can affect many related aspects of where and how people, plants and animals live, such as food production, availability and use of water, and health risks.

Short-term climate variation is normal, but longer-term trends indicate a changing climate. A year or two of an extreme change in temperature or other condition doesn't mean a climate change trend has been "erased."

Climate negotiators at the just-ended UN Climate Summit in Durban, South Africa made progress in setting up an advisory body on adaptation and also agreed to the establishment of the Green Climate Fund to aid developing countries.

Abu Iddrisu, manager of the Northern Regional Environmental Protection Agency, told Xinhua in an interview that there was the need to built understanding of how climate change was affecting livelihoods in target communities and how these risks might evolve in the future.

He said there was the need to support community members, local non-government organizations and government authorities to integrate this knowledge into development planning.

"Awareness Projects should focused first at the community level, facilitating a participatory planning process to yield community action plans to reduce vulnerability to climate change," he said.

The initiative should include the identification of priority actions such as tree planting, establishment of early warning systems for droughts and floods and adoption of agricultural practices that conserve soil moisture and nutrients, he added.

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