An international collaborative study worth 13.5 million Canadian dollars by researchers to understand the effects of climate change on people living in deltas in Africa and South Asia, and how they respond is progressing.
Researchers from the University of Ghana (UG) in collaboration with four others in the United Kingdom, India, Bangladesh and Egypt are undertaking the project.
The DECCMA (Deltas, vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation) project is being funded by Canada’s International Development Research Centre and the UK’s Department for International Development.
Deltas are economic and environmental hotspots and often support high population densities, estimated at more than 500 million people globally, with particular concentrations in Africa, South, South-East and East Asia.
The four deltas, which are the focus of the DECCMA project, are home to almost 200 million people, many of whom are farmers who provide food for a large proportion of the population.
Deltas, many of which are found in Asia and Africa, were identified by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change as being especially vulnerable hotspots to climate change and sea-level rise with poor understanding of the possible adaptation responses.
The project considers two large deltas, namely, Nile in Egypt and the Ganges-Brahmaputra in Bangladesh and India, with two smaller deltas, the Mahanadi in India and the Volta in Ghana.
The just above four-year DECCMA project, which is more than a year of implementation would examine how people are adapting to the physical effects of climate change, such as sea level rise, alongside socio-economic pressures, including land degradation and population pressure, in delta regions.
The project aims to develop methods to predict how these four deltas may evolve over the next 50 to 100 years and provide governments with the knowledge and tools to ensure that future policy could maximise planning services and programmes to the benefit of the region’s population.
Consequently, there would be a particular focus on the potential benefits of planned migration versus other adaptation choices such as dike construction to hold back flood water.
The project would involve working with governments and the people in the deltaic communities to understand the challenges; look to develop an integrated assessment tool, which brings all the different factors together to identify with a wide range of stakeholders and implications of different adaptation options to those challenges.
Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in an interview, Dr Kwasi Appeaning Addo, Deputy Principal Investigator from the University of Ghana’s Department of Marine and Fisheries Sciences (Faculty of Science), said the expected outcome of the interdisciplinary project would identify gender-differentiated stakeholder-relevant scenarios of local, regional and delta-level vulnerability to climate change.
He said the Volta basin delta is experiencing increasing wave over-topping, reduced fish catch and economic problems associated with agriculture, flooding, salt water intrusion and river discharge.
Dr Cynthia Addoquaye Tagoe, Project Co-ordinator from the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, said the motivation for the research is to understand the current migration structure and dynamics of changing driving forces of migration in deltaic regions and establish when it could be used as an adaptation option under climate change scenarios, which could influence policy.
She said the study would lead to the development of gender-sensitive adaptation funding proposals and again identify options for effective climate adaptation by the poor.
Deltas are complex systems with large vulnerable populations. Changes in the delta systems are caused by multiple drivers at multiple scales and the rapid resultant change could significantly affect migration.
As climate change and sea-level rise increases, the range of sustainable adaptation choices in deltaic regions also diminishes.
Experts estimate that from 16 to 20 million people by 2100, would be displaced in the Nile delta in Egypt, while about 42 to 54 million people would be relocated in Bangladesh resulting in environmental refugees.
Although the delta regions are highly vulnerable, there is the lack of political representation that does not make them an automatic focus for policy.
The project is engaging researchers from the University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana Meteorological Services Department, Hydrological Services Department, Water Research Institute, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, and National Development Planning Commission.