Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Adaptive Capacity and Coping Strategies in the Face of Climate Change: A Comparative Study of Communities around Two Protected Areas in the Coastal Savanna and Transitional Zones of Ghana

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Adaptive Capacity and Coping Strategies in the Face of Climate Change: A Comparative Study of Communities around Two Protected Areas in the Coastal Savanna and Transitional Zones of Ghana

Article excerpt

Abstract

Modern productivity-enhancing strategies (MPES) are considered to be some of the best adaptation options available to communities in the face of changing climatic conditions. The adaptive capacity of communities living around two protected areas (Kogyae Strict Nature Reserve and Muni-Pomadze Ramsar Site) in Ghana were assessed in relation to MPES by investigating household accessibility to human, social, natural, financial and physical capital. Information was collected from 249 and 250 respondents in Kogyae and Muni respectively. A logit model was used to find out whether adaptive capacity affected adoption of MPES. In both study areas, indigenous coping strategies such as use of simple farm tools, processing of root/tubers and grains and social grouping were practiced. The MPES practiced included application of fertilizers and other agrochemicals, use of high technology machinery and bunding in rice fields. The mean level of adaptive capacity of farm households was low in both areas; 0.30 and 0.27 in Kogyae and Muni respectively. The adoption of MPES was influenced positively by the level of human and physical capacities and farm size and location of protected area, and negatively by farmers' participation in off-farm activities. Farmers located in Kogyae were more likely to adopt productivity-enhancing strategies than their counterparts in Muni. Considering that access to the resources within the protected areas is restricted and not legally available to support livelihoods of the fringe communities, we conclude that enhancing access to both human and physical capitals is the way forward for climate change adaptation for these two communities.

Keywords: farmer adaptive capacities, climate change, modern productivity-enhancing strategies, protected areas

1. Introduction

Climate change is arguably the most persistent threat to global environmental stability. Folland, Karl & Salinger (2006) reported a warming of approximately 0.7°C over most of the African continent during the 20th century based on historical records. The fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) also reported that warming is very likely to be larger than the global annual mean warming throughout the continent and in all seasons, with drier subtropical regions warming more than the moister tropics (Christensen et al., 2007). In Ghana, using 1960 as baseline, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that temperatures in Ghana have increased by 1°C across the country (Agyeman-Bonsu et al., 2008), representing an average rate of 0.21°C per decade. Estimates by the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) indicate that the situation could be worsened as rainfall is projected to decline by 2.2%, 8.8% and 14.6% by the years 2020, 2050 and 2080 respectively (Minia, 2004). Lacombe et al. (2012) and Owusu & Waylen (2012) provided evidence that communities in the transition and coastal savannah zones of Ghana are experiencing climatic changes with both the major and minor raining seasons getting shorter and the length of the growing season decreasing, resulting in reduced ability of farmers to crop more than once in a year in most places.

The economies of developing countries are mainly based on agriculture that is mostly subsistence in nature, with a high dependence on rainfall for irrigation. As a result, agriculture in these countries is highly vulnerable to changes in climate variability, seasonal shifts, and precipitation patterns (WRI, 1996). The overdependence of agricultural households in developing countries on nature means that such households are more likely to bear the impacts of climate change through changes in natural resources availability, ecosystems, water cycles and, food systems and the need to cope with a changing regime of weather extremes (Owusu & Waylen, 2012). Africa's inhabitants are reported to have developed highly effective strategies to cope with drought since the region became semi-arid some four or five thousand years ago (Andah, 1993; Casey, 1998). …

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