This week Professor Kwasi Appeaning-Addo, deputy PI of DECCMA Ghana and now Director of the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies at the University of Ghana, will be presenting key findings on climate change, migration and adaptation in the Volta delta to a meeting of development partners within the Environment and Natural Resources Sector Working Group. The presentation will provide an opportunity to highlight complementarities and where DECCMA research findings can inform adaptation programming in Ghana.
DECCMA Ghana has released a short film that summarises its research activities, findings and impacts from four years of investigation into climate change, migration and adaptation in the Volta delta. In the clip, DECCMA researchers Sam Codjoe, Kwasi Appeaning-Addo, Mumuni Abu and Cynthia Addoquaye-Tagoe, and coordinator Gertrude Owusu, highlight how the project has engaged with stakeholders and built relationships in order to inform policy. Chair of the National Expert Advisory Group, Honourable Clement Humado, also outlines why he accepted the role and how the project has benefited the country.
The vulnerability of delta environments is increasingly recognised, with a multitude of stressors threatening the lives of communities and re-shaping livelihood decisions. As a vulnerable and marginalised group, women experience this the most acutely.
Migration is recognised as one of three sustainable livelihood strategies, alongside livelihood diversification and agricultural intensification. Within the Indian Bengal delta, men are most likely to migrate with women often left behind to look after the household and livelihoods. There is limited research exploring the impacts of out-migration and the adaptive strategies women undertake. To gain further insight into out-migration and add to my analysis of the DECCMA household survey data, I undertook interviews for my Masters dissertation in the villages of Dulki and Sonagar (the dissertation is available here).
Migration impacts depend on circumstances
The impacts of out-migration depend on the reason and type of the migration – for example whether it was involuntary or voluntary, or permanent or seasonal. The extent to which women are affected by out-migration depends on their social support networks at home. For those women with supportive friends, relatives and neighbours, this can counteract the increased loneliness and isolation that results from losing the daily presence of a family member.
Remittances are an important enabler of proactive adaptive strategies
Remittances play an important role in supporting women when a household member migrates. When remittances are received, they can enable women to employ proactive adaptive strategies to reduce risks of climate change. Such strategies can include stopping working outside the home and increasing social interaction. However, not all households receive remittances.
Empowerment and Decision-Making
Women often become the de facto household head during out-migration, and in turn they assume responsibility for decisions that might otherwise be made by their husbands. Findings show that decision making powers are often transferred to the women when men migrate, which had implications for the adaptive strategies they undertake. Participation in self-help groups is an example of a strategy that empowers women to make choices that affect their lives and, in turn the adaptive strategies they undertake.
Overcoming Fieldwork Challenges
Together with my fellow University of Southampton students, I experienced several challenges during fieldwork from weather to undertaking research. These challenges were all overcome with preparation and assistance from the Jadavpur University team. I became close friends with my research assistant translator, who aided my research extensively. She was not only responsive and considerate during interviews, allowing me and the interviewee to engage across two languages, but we had insightful talks about the gender representation within England and India, helping me gain further context for my research. As well as the team, all the delta women were extremely welcoming, inviting and accommodating, which allowed me to conduct 17 interviews during my time in the delta.
DECCMA has just released a new publication, “Climate change, migration and adaptation in deltas. Key findings from the DECCMA project” available to download in optimal resolution (15MB) and lower resolution (6MB). The publication summarises our key findings on the present and future situation of deltas, highlights some of the impacts our research has had on policies and plans in Bangladesh, India and Ghana, and reflects on the capacity that has been built through the DECCMA project.
During the monitoring and evaluation of the DECCMA Ghana project, it came to light that the Planning Officer for the Keta Municipal Assembly has been making efforts to incorporate some of the learnings from the DECCMA project engagements. This feature article highlights his involvement in the DECCMA project and how useful the learnings from the project have been to him as a Municipal Planning Officer of the Keta Municipal Assembly.
The DECCMA project through the Ghana research team has engaged with stakeholders at the national and district levels. Notable among these stakeholders has been the engagement with the Municipal Planning Officer for one of the Ghana project districts, Mr John Ntibrey.
John Ntibrey, Municipal Planning Officer, Keta Municipality
Mr Ntibrey has twelve years of experience as a Senior Development Planning Officer and has been working in the Keta Municipal Assembly for the past three years. His involvement with the DECCMA project started in late 2016, having participated in a stakeholder engagement workshop at Sogakope where interim project findings were presented. Subsequently, he took part in the National Expert Advisory Group (NEAG) meeting in 2017 as well as the district stakeholders validation workshop in January 2018. He also participated in the DECCMA-led field visit to the Keta Municipality during an FAO workshop in December 2017.
These engagements have influenced Mr Ntibrey personally and contributed to his personal capacity and work. According to him, the ‘engagement was great and it has enlightened my understanding into the delta management and it attendant challenges’. He indicated that the key impact areas resulting from the DECCMA engagements include; improvement in planning skills (through the incorporation of vulnerability issues), understanding of migration in the delta, an improved understanding of the impact of climate change on social and economic life, and adaptation issues. As a development planner, the engagements have further enhanced his understanding of the conditions that promote migration and its outcomes as well as the governance mechanisms that promote or hinder migration of men and women in deltas.
On the overall impact of the project as a result of the various engagements, Mr Ntibrey noted ‘‘…the project in general has enlightened a planner on how the lives within the Volta delta have been affected in terms of their vulnerability, migration issues and the adaptability. It’s been amazing how the various work packages have dealt with the various expertise. It has also built our desire to take the life of the people living in the various deltas seriously’’.
Mr Ntibrey also made some recommendations for future engagement of policy-makers and practitioners in research projects. These included deeper involvement of stakeholders in the collection and analysis of project data and visits to other project partner countries to promote the sharing of first-hand knowledge and information on delta management. He further called for the extension of the DECCMA project in Ghana to ensure wider dissemination of the research.
DECCMA Ghana organised a panel session to share their project findings with participants during the 6th Climate Change and Population Conference on Africa (CCPOP2018) held from 23rd to 25th July 2018.
DECCMA Panel at CCPOP (photo: Gertrude Owusu)
The session, under the theme population-climate nexus, was entitled “The Volta Delta: A multidisciplinary perspective on climate change impacts”. Professor Kwasi Appeaning Addo, Co-PI of DECCMA Ghana, provided and overview of project findings. The panel comprised the lead research scientists of the DECCMA work packages. It was moderated by Mr Winfred Nelson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and chaired by Honourable Dr Beatrice Adiku-Heloo, Member of Parliament for Hohoe Constituency and a member of the Appointment Committee of Parliament.
Findings shared related to climate change impacts in the Volta Delta, including: policy responsiveness and household adaptation strategies to climate change impact; biophysical and socio-economic factors affecting livestock-based livelihoods; determinants of immobility in hazard-prone communities and economic and livelihood impacts of climate change vulnerabilities. Particular points that arose in the discussion included what the future will look like and recommendations on how to address these challenges.
On the issue of policies promoting or hindering migration, the governance analysis of DECCMA reveals that no explicit policy exists that hinders movement, however, other factors (economic and family ties) remain critical. It also emerged that change in governments do not promote policy implementation as prioritisation of issues tend to hinder the implementation of some policies.
Also featured on the panel was Professor Christopher Gordon, the ASSAR Ghana project lead, who shared highlights of ASSAR research findings noting migration as a key adaptation option with the issues of food security, and disconnect between opportunities at district and national level, being the major problems for adaptation.
The CCPOP is an annual Conference organised by the Regional Institute of Population Studies (RIPS) at the University of Ghana aimed at promoting lessons on the best scientific practices with a focus on potential development impacts on Africa. This year’s conference was under the theme “The Future We Do Not Want” and focused on various risk related themes such as the population–climate nexus, population health and climate change, coastal zones and green growth, cities and climate change, adaptation and mitigation among others.
In June 2018 a group of students from the University of Southampton and the DECCMA India team visited Dulki, a village within the Indian Bengal delta, to investigate migration and adaptation and their opportunities and challenges. This short video clip provides insights into the nature of livelihoods in Dulki, how they are affected by climate and environmental change, and how they respond.
When a tropical cyclone hits, the loss of life and destruction of land and property is immediately evident. But the effects of such extreme weather events can endure for years. In a new photostory “THE AFTERMATH OF AILA. The lingering effects of a tropical cyclone in the Indian Bengal delta”, Katharine Vincent and Sumana Banerjee reflect on how, nearly a decade after it occurred, cyclone Aila still has an impact on the lives and livelihoods of island residents in the Indian Bengal delta.
Dulki village, Gosaba block, Indian Bengal delta (photo: Katharine Vincent)