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Ghana needs over a billion dollars to protect shoreline

Ghana needs a total of 1.14 billion US dollars to protect parts of its 550 kilometre shoreline that are at risk of being washed away by the sea in the wake of rising sea levels fueled by climate change.
The endangered shorelines that are being considered for protection are those with populations greater than 10 persons per kilometre square.
Some areas of Ghana’s shoreline are well below sea level, making them very vulnerable to sea erosion with the eastern coast of Ghana currently being subjected to an alarming rate of erosion of three metres per anuum.
This was contained in a document entitled ‘Climate change and the Ghanaian Economy’, prepared and released by the Environmental Protection Agency at a KASA CSO training in Tamale which was attended by non-governmental and civil society organizations working in the areas of climate change and environmental protection. It said the cost of protecting only important parts of the shoreline at risk would reduce the cost to 590 million US dollars.
The document noted that most of Ghana’s infrastructure, particularly, industry, and her only two ports at Tema and Takoradi are along the coast. Thus, a rise in sea level, coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion and flooding would not only have significant impacts on coastal communities but on the country’s economy as a whole.
It said historical data on Ghana’s climate observed by the Ghana Meteorological Agency across the country over a forty year period from 1960 to 2000 shows a progressive and discernible rise in temperature and a concomitant decrease in rainfall in all agro-ecological zones of the country. Future climate change scenarios developed on the basis of the forty year observed data also indicate that temperature would continue to rise progressively on an average of about 0.6, 2.0, and 3.9 degrees Celsius by the year 2020.
The document stated that recent studies carried out to determine the vulnerability of agriculture to climate change in Ghana indicate that climate change, through the fuelling of extreme weather conditions, would worsen food security by reducing crop yields. Maize yield is expected to drop by seven percent by 2020 if the current trend in climate change continues unabated.
Episodic drought and habitat destruction brought on by water stress would render inland fisheries more vulnerable while ocean warming would modify ocean currents with possible impacts on coastal marine fisheries. Farming systems that are predominantly along river banks would also suffer during periods of intense rainfall that result in floods.
The document stressed the need for action to nib the impact of climate change on Ghana in the bud since an increase in damaging floods, dust storms and other extreme weather conditions would damage settlements and infrastructure, paving the way for epidemics that would undermine the health of Ghanaians and expose them to a lot of suffering and hardship.
Climate change might also exacerbate desertification, since the two are inextricably linked through feedbacks between land degradation and precipitation. Hence, by altering the spatial and temporal patterns in temperature, rainfall, solar insulation and winds, climate change could worsen desertification. On the other hand, desertification aggravates carbon dioxide induced climate change through the release of carbon dioxide from cleared and dead vegetation and the reduction of the carbon sequestration potential of desertified land.
The document therefore stressed the need to integrate climate change in sectors such as water management and agriculture: including the cultivation of cereals and root tubers, fisheries and cocoa production as well as the health, energy, coastal infrastructure, tourism and disaster management sectors. “The challenge is to understand the additional vulnerability introduced by climate change and to reorient current policies, plans, programmes and practices to take climate change into consideration”, it stated.
It observed that, “many of the changes required in the transition to mainstreaming are not very costly in financial terms but require changes in existing institutions, legislations, policies and infrastructural design” and stressed the need for international financial support in the short to medium term to assist this transition in Ghana.
“This support should be integrated into the national budget framework and co-ordinated by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment and its implementing agencies, particularly, Environmental Protection agency, to allow Ghana to assess climate change against other priorities to ensure that adaptation is not seen as a standalone activity”.
The document pointed out that, in order for Ghana to achieve its long term development goals such as the Ghana Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), climate change should be integrated into development issues. “The diversity in agro-climactic regimes across the country from savanna grassland to tropical rainforest with differing degrees of temporal variability make discussions on climate change for Ghana challenging”
Nonetheless, in order to enhance the capacity of Ghana to cope with climate change and reduce poverty, it is necessary to link climate change adaptations and response mechanisms to the livelihoods of the people to enhance the resilience of the poor and vulnerable and increase their capacity to cope with climate variability.

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