The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines it as a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity, altering the composition of the global atmosphere.
Human activity includes the pollution that arises from industrial activity, farming, environmental degradation and others such as volcanic eruptions to mention a few.
In addition, certain human activities have been identified as primary causes of the on-going climatic change, often referred to as the global warming, a condition that negatively affects climatic conditions.
In the Brong Ahafo Region in Ghana for example, societal effects of climate change are already being felt, as evidenced in the health, livelihoods, food productivity and water availability.
A Sharp change in the rainfall pattern, drying up of rivers and receding of water bodies are some of the effects of climate change in cocoa growing communities in the Region.
Rivers such as the Tano, Bia, Tain, Goa among others, are gradually receding due to uncontrolled human activities such as bad farming practices, illegal logging, as well as illegal surface and alluvial mining.
As the food basket of the nation, the sustainability of national food security depends on the ability to address key environmental challenges associated with the problem in the Region which has also experienced rapid deforestation with damaging consequences for biodiversity and people who are culturally and economically dependent on forest resources and ecosystem services.
It is essential therefore that institutions, development partners and the society as a whole, make a collective effort to develop long-term planning to mitigate the impact.
UNDP’s mitigation measures
It is against this background that the UNDP’s climate change mitigation measures could be described as far-reaching.
The UNDP has brought some relief to cocoa farmers in the Asunafo North Municipality in Brong-Ahafo – the Region’s largest cocoa producing area where the condition has affected cocoa production.
According to cocoa farmers in most of the forest fringed communities in the Municipality, the rainfall pattern in the area is unpredictable and remains unfavourable for cocoa and food production.
This is due to the rapid depletion of the forest and destruction of the ecosystem due to negative agricultural practices and unwarranted human activities such as bush burning, uncontrolled hunting expeditions, indiscriminate felling of trees and farming along most of the river bodies.
The UNDP, under a five-year project to mitigate the effects of climate change on the country’s cocoa industry, has in the past two years supplied 800,000 economic tree seedlings to more than 6,000 farmers of the cash crop.
Named the “Environment Sustainability and Policy for Cocoa Production in Ghana Project (ESP)”, it is being implemented in 36 communities with the distribution of local species of Mahogany and Ofram to the farmers to promote environmental sustainability practices in cocoa growing sites, through biodiversity conservation.
The Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) is the main implementor of the project, with additional support from the Mondelez International’s Cocoa Life Programme.
In Brong-Ahafo, the project is being implemented in the Asunafo North Municipality.
According to Dr Augustus Asamoah, the Forestry Management and Conservation Specialist of the ESP Project, 250,000 farmers in the area have been supplied with the economic tree seedlings to help increase shade trees on cocoa farms and enhance carbon stocks across the cocoa landscape.
In addition, an operational area of 21,574 hectares of land has been established to support sustainable management of forest and natural resources in that area.
Cocoa farmers at Fawohoyeden, Kasapin, Mantekrom and Jerusalem in the Municipality said prompt intervention of the UNDP and its partners had brought hope to them.
Mr. Daniel Amponsah, a cocoa farmer at Kasapin told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) that the project had supported farmers in 46 communities in the area to plant economic tree seedlings such as Oframo, Mahogany, Emire, Cidrella and Acacia to resuscitate the forest.
Mrs. Elizabeth Addai, a 58-year-old farmer at Jerusalem said, aside the farm inputs distributed to them, most farmers under the project had understood best farming practices because of the capacity building and training component given them.
Eric Gyamfi, a Field Officer of the Project, explained that environmental clubs had been formed in 16 Junior High Schools in the area to create the needed awareness, understanding and interest in climate change and its consequences on the environment.
The schools are Kasapin Municipal Assembly (M/A) Primary, Abidjan M/A Primary, Ampenkrom M/A Primary, Diasibe M/A Primary, Driverkrom SDA Primary and Junior High School (JHS), Edwinase M/A Primary, Fawohoyeden M/A Primary as well as Fawohoyeden M/A ‘B’ and Fianko M/A JHS.
Others are Kasapin Wesley Methodist, Kumaho M/A, Kwaopertey M/A, Minkakrom M/A, Kumaho M/A, Peterkrom M/A, and Wam-adiemra M/A JHS.
Mr. Gyamfi said the Project had supplied the clubs with sets of garden tools to establish model farms and school-based environmental activities such as landscaping and tree planting as immediate measures to address the challenges of climate change.
Farmers in the beneficiary communities have also been supplied with 75,199 economic tree seedlings for planting to protect the bumper zone.
Moving forward, continued efforts to support conservation strategies that allow rapid changes for the benefit of all are needed and should be provided nationwide.
By Dennis Peprah