DECCMA Ghana release short film summarising their research findings and impacts

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.

Profiling our stakeholders: Keta Municipal Planning Officer in Ghana

by Prosper Adiku and Gertrude Owusu

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.

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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.

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DECCMA Ghana at the 6th Climate Change and Population Conference on Africa

by Prosper Adiku

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.

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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.

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Report on DECCMA and Delta Alliance-convened session at Adaptation Futures 2018 “Adaptation practice and experience in deltas in the global south”

by Katharine Vincent and Peter van Veelen

DECCMA and the Delta Alliance recently co-convened a session on 21st June at Adaptation Futures 2018 in Cape Town on the topic “Adaptation practice and experience in deltas in the global south”. The session included presentations from both DECCMA and Delta Alliance members.

Ricardo Safra de Campos presents on “Migration as an adaptation”

DECCMA PI Robert Nicholls chaired the session. Katharine Vincent from Kulima Integrated Development Solutions presented research on observed adaptations in deltaic Ghana, India and Bangladesh and Ricardo Safra De Campos from the University of Exeter presented the first research findings of the DECCMA project on “Migration as an adaptation”. The presentation showed that households in deltas employ a variety of adaptation strategies in the face of environmental and climate risk, including migration.

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The Delta Alliance Egypt and Ghana wing coordinators presented experiences in delta planning and management. Professor Mohamed Soliman from the Coastal Research Institute presented innovative ways to create natural flood defenses and sand dunes along Alexandria’s coast to stop recurrent coastal flooding. Ken Kinney from the Development Institute in Ghana, presented the challenges of the Volta delta and the process of establishing a network of knowledge institutes, governments and local communities to work on integral land use planning. Both presentations showed that a holistic coastal management plan is needed that integrates coastal management with economic and land use planning.

As with all sessions at Adaptation Futures 2018, DECCMA and the Delta Alliance were invited to provide three “takeaway” points for consideration by the authors of the IPCC 6th Assessment Report. The points were:

  1. There is a growing body of literature highlighting the potential future of deltas under climate change, taking into account sea level rise and sediment flux, among others.
  2. Hard adaptations such as embankments are critical to protect infrastructure, lives and livelihoods in deltas.
  3. There is evidence of a variety of household adaptations in deltas, which include in situ adaptations and migration.

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DECCMA Ghana shares research findings from the Volta delta during a student exchange workshop

by Prosper Adiku

In mid-May, Professor Kwasi Appeaning Addo of the University of Ghana shared findings from the DECCMA project during a student exchange workshop on the Volta delta organised by TU Delft and Delta Alliance in the Netherlands.

Speaking on “Shoreline change in the Volta delta and implications for coastal communities” as part of a scientific seminar in the Faculty of Architecture (13-18 May 2018), TU Delft, Prof. Appeaning Addo, Co-PI for DECCMA Ghana, highlighted the key factors responsible for change in the Volta delta. He highlighted key findings of DECCMA research in the assessment of migration as an adaptation option in the delta under a changing climate to deliver policy support on sustainable gender-sensitive adaptation.

He noted that findings from DECCMA project cut across issues regarding policy implementation, assessment of biophysical hazards, land cover change and migration and these requires the management of the Volta delta to be viewed as an integration of coupled biophysical and socio-economic systems.

Participants at the seminar included Ghana government delegation of the Volta delta mission, the Dutch government, director of Delta Alliance and members of the Ghana – Netherlands Students collaboration programme.

New short film-Sustainable livelihoods in the Volta delta, Ghana

by Katharine Vincent

The Volta delta in Ghana is a challenging place to live. Since the construction of the Volta dam at Akosombo, the regulation of downstream river flows have affected fish spawning and migration patterns, and the reduced likelihood of flooding affects the suitability of floodplain land for agriculture. Mangrove cultivation and harvesting is being promoted by the government as a sustainable livelihood for delta inhabitants. The wood is traded, used for construction, and popular for smoking fish. A new short film, produced by Klaus Wohlmann with the DECCMA team, outlines this activity.

Mangrove forestry (photo: Klaus Wohlmann)

DECCMA holds its 8th whole consortium meeting in Bangladesh

by Katharine Vincent

What have we learned about migration and adaptation in deltas? Last week nearly 50 members of the DECCMA team from Bangladesh, Ghana, India and the northern team convened in Dhaka for the 8th whole consortium meeting. It was an exciting opportunity to learn about a critical mass of research findings that have been developed over the past 3.5 years, and plan how to ensure they inform theory, policy and practice.

Participants at the DECCMA8th whole consortium meeting, with key Bangladesh government representatives concerned with adaptation and the Delta Plan 2100

When it commenced in 2014, DECCMA set itself seven ambitious objectives, namely:

(1) to understand the governance mechanisms that promote or hinder migration of men and women in deltas;

(2) to identify climate change impact hotspots in deltas where vulnerability will grow and adaptation will be needed;

(3) to understand the conditions that promote migration and its outcomes, as well as gender-specific adaptation options for trapped populations, via surveys;

(4) to understand how climate-change-driven global and national macro-economic processes impact on migration of men and women in deltas;

(5) to produce an integrated systems-based bio-physical and socio-economic model to investigate
potential future gendered migration under climate change;

(6) to conceptualise and evaluate migration within a wide suite of potential adaptation options at both the household and delta level;

(7) to identify feasible and desirable adaptation options and support implementation of stakeholder-led gender-sensitive adaptation policy choices.

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During the consortium meeting each country team consolidated its findings around these objectives to synthesise what we have learned so far within each of the deltas. A wide-ranging and detailed set of analyses was presented, from assessment of the existence and status of implementation of adaptation-related policies in each country, to migration patterns and consequences, and models of fishery and livestock productivity.  The structure of a hybrid model framework has been developed, based on Bayesian network analysis with multiple nodes so that it can project the impacts of climate change on the biophysical and socio-economic environments, as well as adaptation and migration decisions and consequences.

Planning took place to ensure that these findings are published in the peer-reviewed literature, and also in the form of a book. At the same time, DECCMA is committed to ensuring that research findings are effectively communicated to various stakeholders to ensure that they can inform policy and practice, enabling sustainable adaptation to climate change in deltas and proactive management of projected migration patterns. The integrated assessment model will play a key role in this, and over the course of the project relationships have been built with key stakeholders in each country who have an interest in this information for their planning decisions. Alongside targeted and tailored policy briefs, the team will also be available to support governments in developing adaptation finance proposals.

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Mainstreaming climate change into district plans and budgets in Ghana

by Prosper Adiku

DECCMA used a dissemination and validation workshop to also build capacity on mainstreaming climate change. The workshop was attended by district officials, traditional leaders and community representatives from nine districts in the Volta delta of Ghana.

Winfred Nelson of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) and the DECCMA governance team presented on how to factor climate change into issues into planning and budgeting processes during the preparation of the short-term (2-year) Medium Term Development Plans at the district and municipal assembly levels.

Ghana meeting (photo: Klaus Wohlmann)

The ethos of the workshop was participatory, with the community participants and district officers sharing their perception of climate change impacts, before discussion turned to potential personal and collective responses at adaptation and mitigation.

With regards to mainstreaming, officials indicated that although climate change issues are not treated separately in planning and budgeting processes, the challenge arises with the integration process due to the low levels of awareness of climate change and perceived.  Mr Nelson highlighted the opportunities to secure extra-budgetary adaptation funding if climate change is effectively mainstreamed.

DECCMA team participates in FAO Regional Meeting in Ghana

by Prosper Adiku

DECCMA was invited to make a presentation at the Food and Agriculture Organisation Regional Meeting held in Akosombo, Ghana from November 20-24, 2017; and hosted a field visit to the Volta delta.

FAO’s is committed to promoting rural agricultural development. Migration currently has a negative impact on agriculture by taking away economically-active adults, and so the intention is to make agriculture attractive.

Dr Mumuni Abu presents migration findings from the Volta delta

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Lead of the migration work in Ghana, Dr Mumuni Abu, was invited to share DECCMA’s findings on climate change and migration in the Volta delta, as well as to discuss how to leverage the opportunities presented by FAO in collaborating for further studies. He shared information on who migrants in the delta are, reasons for migrating, where the migrants go to, the duration of migration and the general perception of people about migration.

As part of the meeting programme, the DECCMA team hosted a visit to the Keta Municipality to learn about the interactions between climate change, migration and agriculture in the delta. The team interacted with officials of the District Assembly through presentations and discussions on climate change and agriculture-related issues in the Municipality and how these are impacting on the lives of the people. Officials from the planning department, Community development workers and the Information Services Department of the Assembly as well as DECCMA representatives were present during the interactions.

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Should we unpack “community-based adaptation”?

by Natalie Suckall                           

Despite many examples of successful community-based adaptation, DECCMA’s extensive household survey  across four deltas found very little evidence of collective action. Rather than being activities in addition to those of the household, instead community-level effects are only observed when there is an aggregation of household-based activities. Does this mean that we need to better interrogate “community-based adaptation”?

Natalie Suckall presents at the Development Studies Association 2017 annual conference

Interest in this topic emerged at the recent Development Studies Association 2017 annual conference, held at the University of Bradford. Five DECCMA researchers led a panel on sustainable deltas. From varied presentations on observed adaptation, adaptation governance, migration and remittances, and migration and adaptation, a common theme emerged – that of scale. In particular, how does DECCMA understand events that take place at the community level, as opposed to the household or national level?

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One of the issues faced by DECCMA researchers was that no examples of collective action and very few examples of community based adaptation were found during our initial literature review of observable adaptation in the deltas.

Although some adaptation interventions were characterised as CBA, their impact was often felt at the household level where different households within the community were affected in different ways. For example, polders (land reclaimed from the sea) in Bangladesh are often described as a community adaptation as they aim to protect entire communities from flooding as well as providing land for farmers and fishers. Sometimes communities are involved in their construction.

Whilst communities may be involved in the construction of polders, this does not mean that the benefits are equally spread.  Within each polder there exist multiple competing interests between government, farmers, pond owners, and the landless.  Larger and better off households are more likely to be successful farmers and fishers, with profit and yield unlikely to be distributed to the landless poor. What this really means is that each household is affected by the polder in a different way – and thus to talk of it as a community-based adaptation hides these differences.

Our survey of 6000 households in the four study sites provided an opportunity to search for examples of collective action. We found that in all four locations less than a quarter of households were involved in a cooperative group.  The highest membership was in the Indian Mahandi at 25%, whilst it was 14% in Ghana, 8% in Bangladesh, and only 6% in the Indian Bengal delta.

In light of these findings, DECCMA’s integrated assessment model considers only national and household-level adaptations. Our survey evidence shows that community-based adaptation is far less important than household level, and is captured by aggregating household-level benefits. Since findings show that community-based adaptation can have variable effects, we should perhaps interrogate it before promoting as an appropriation adaptation to climate change.

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