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Story by Stanlis Annie Offeogbu
Founder: Annie’s Media

As the saying goes, poverty is hierarchical but smog is democratic. Many Ghanaians, like others globally, think they are safe from the effects of climate change because they do not produce significant amounts of greenhouse gases. However, air has no boundaries in the atmosphere, and neither do the clouds above us.

The Earth is in constant motion – both rotation and revolution, causing air to be distributed globally. The effects of global warming impact every nation, directly or indirectly, and thus it is a global responsibility.
The high level of ignorance and illiteracy among many individuals makes it challenging to communicate the need for climate change adaptation and mitigation. However, certain incidents in local communities can help convey the impacts of climate change and the necessity for action.

For example, explaining how global warming causes the polar ice caps and the ice cap on Mount Everest to melt, subsequently raising sea levels in countries far from the melting sites, can serve as evidence for those who doubt the democratic nature of climate impact.

West Africa’s coasts are eroding away, with dry land being consumed by water due to a destructive combination of natural erosion and human interference. Globally, half of the world’s population resides within 200 km of the coast, and 70% of mega cities are located along the coast. This highlights the importance of coastal areas for the location of major cities and industries.

For resurgent economies like those in most West African countries, losing our coasts due to climate effects poses a significant threat to economic expansion. From Senegal to Nigeria, scientists warn that eroding beaches will soon present an unavoidable threat to booming coastal populations.
In Ghana, a glimpse of a threatening future in response to climate change can be seen in Totope.

This town, situated between a lagoon to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the south, is cursed by its geography. Salt water seeps through the makeshift landfill on which Totope rests. Villagers walk on soggy ground, dodging creeks that run between houses, and they hang their possessions from ceiling rafters to keep them above their often-wet floors.

Since 2007, there has been a gradual change in Ghana’s rainfall patterns, but most people failed to recognize it. After the Akosombo Dam dried up in 2007, excessive rainfall in 2010 led to the overflow of Ghana’s major water bodies.

For the first time in 20 years, the level of the Akosombo Dam Reservoir, which provides electricity to Ghana and its neighboring West African countries, rose above its maximum, flooding communities close to the Volta River. An estimated 378,000 people were displaced as a result of the floods.

In 2014, continuous downpours during the rainy season posed significant threats to the country’s agricultural sector and to residents living near water bodies. The National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) provided aid to displaced victims with compensation to facilitate resettlement.

However, there is no adaptation or mitigation plan to combat the effects of climate change in the country. Our systems do not work effectively and the country prefers paying compensation to victims of flooding and other climate change-related disasters rather than investing in sectors that could help mitigate these impacts. People build around water bodies, and coastal dwellers are involved in beach sand mining, which is extremely dangerous given the rising sea levels globally.

Ghana recently launched its climate change policy this year, accompanied by numerous summits and symposiums organized by various organizations and institutions.

These include the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, Ghana Youth Climate Coalition, Eco Script, Green Africa Youth Organization, Leadership in Conservation Africa, Universities, and the Forestry Commission, all aiming to draw attention to the diverse impacts of climate change on our nation. The agricultural sector, which significantly contributes to the country’s GDP, is now being affected by unpredictable rainfall patterns. This has led to the announcement of the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Policy for some categories of farmers, with hopes that it will soon extend to all farmers.

Despite these challenges and the evident impacts of climate change, the country has struggled to effectively communicate the urgency of climate action to its citizens
Ghana, as a developing country, reported over 1,000 cases of cholera within just two months in 2014. Filth is engulfing us, and we all need to understand the democratic impact of having an unsafe environment.

While the wealthy can choose where they eat, they cannot choose the air they breathe. It’s time we prioritize our environment and implement the rules and regulations necessary to ensure a safe environment for future generations. We should adopt an ecocentric approach to keeping our communities clean.

If you keep your house and its surroundings clean and your neighbor does the same, together we will have a clean community and, thus, a clean Ghana. Public education should be welcomed and introduced to our rural and coastal communities, who often regard water bodies as dumping sites. This practice hinders water flow and exacerbates climate change impacts in the country.

NGOs and other private sectors should step up and call for climate action, educating the public about the effects of climate change.
Climate change is not a myth, though some may regard it as such due to illiteracy. Together, we must raise awareness and effectively communicate the urgency of climate action until we have a strong national and global climate movement.

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