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The voices of the vulnerable to the impacts of climate change in Ghana

Sept. 3, 2015, 11:59 a.m.

This year’s climate conference in Paris might be the last chance to limit global warming below 2 degrees. Climate change affects everyone, but very differently among individuals. Read how vulnerable people are being affected by climate change in Ghana.
Latifatu is an energetic young woman farmer from Bawku in the Upper East Region of Ghana who spends hours each day hauling water for her family to drink, wash, as well as for their livestock and crops and cooks for her families as well. She is a mother of six children and also the bread winner of her family. Latifatu being a widow, always spends all her days and nights in the farm for the betterment of her six children. She always wakes up very early to go to the farm as is their source of livelihood. 
There was heavy rain in that community and Latifatu thought it was a sign of a plentiful harvest and that their farms will be filled with happiness. But this hope soon faded because a sudden drought came and the sun beat down, withering up the crops. It lasted for two weeks scorching the earth and leaving many trees naked. The water dried up in the streams. Latifatu dug holes in her stream and a little water bubbled out but only for a few days. She had to carry water again to her farm. Watching the yam tendrils withering and the young roots rotting in the mounds was very painful.

There lived a man called Mr. Kojo from Nangodi in the Upper East Region of Ghana. The region is noted with high temperature which has created a negative effect on the health of the resident population. He is a farmer and also trades from the north to the south of Ghana with his two children by supplying electrical cables. He never went to school but hope to see his two children educated. He believes that in order to achieve that, he must aim high for his two children; work hard in order to reach that high. This hope soon faded because he woke up in the morning only to find his two children in a bad state. Mr. Kojo rushed them to the hospital but only to be told his children are being diagnosed of malaria and Cerebral-Spinal Meningitis (CSM) and the severity is so much that it can’t be treated. It was so sad for Mr. Kojo to be told the next morning that his children have passed on.

It was on Wednesday evening in June, 2015, that a heavy downpour of rain killed Mr. Yaw’s wife and children and displaced his property. His house gushed fire and his mechanic shop, cattle, and sheep were lost. Mr. Yaw, a 90 year old man, had no place to go and nothing left to fend for himself. An orphan, he never knew his parents or his family, but was raised in an orphanage and depended solely on his wife as the bread winner of the family. Mr. Yaw’s community has always had problems with solid waste disposal. It blocks water pathways and the stench is a nuisance to people, including tourists. Many food vendors in the community use water drains for refuse, while passengers at the lorry stations drop virtually anything – banana peels, polythene bags, mango peels, canned drink containers, ice water sachets – into the drains, which causes the city’s drainage system to choke and causes environmental havoc such as flooding. Mr. Yaw is now a flood victim.

Ama is a 12-year-old primary school graduate that had to abandon her home in a small industrial town in the northern part of Ghana, where 80% of the people work in agriculture and yet every day they have to face the tough reality and deal with unceasingly changing problems, such as erosion, occurrence of drought, flood, high temperature, low organic matter content and high level of environmental and land degradation. She had to run away after a heavy rainfall washed away their two acreage farmland, hens, guinea fowls, home, furniture - everything was lost. Later her father, who was employed in maize farming, committed suicide due to unpaid loans, leaving his wife to take care by herself for their two children – a task well beyond her strength. She mourned bitterly for her dead husband, not knowing what will become of her or her children. Struck by poverty and illness, she soon lost her sight. Ama had to quit school and move with her mom and sibling to the southern part of Ghana, hoping life there will be better for her woeful family. Latifatu’s mother and her two children became victims of climate change, technically termed “climate refugees”.
Climate change is a menace in my beloved country, Ghana. Due to this impact of climate change to the lives of these Ghanaians, it has made life unbearable to them. I therefore call on the government of Ghana to help the vulnerable on how to adopt the mitigation and adaptation strategies in order to curb this menace and also the government needs to implement policies and strategies to protect the health of the vulnerable.
By

Fariya Abubakari is the Country Coordinator of End Ecocide Ghana, 
Global Ambassador of YEW, Commonwealth Correspondence, Climate Tracker for Adopt a Negotiator Program. fariyaabubakari@yahoo.com,

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this news report do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC)

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