The Sustainable Development Cluster of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana is supporting the Government of Ghana to implement disaster risk reduction programmes, putting in place long term strategies to make Ghana a climate resilient country.
The UN system in Ghana has a long track record of effective coordination of humanitarian operations in response to natural disasters and other emergencies such as cholera outbreak or influx of refugees. The UNDP with support from the Government of Japan, and its national partners endeavor to establish appropriate adaptation and mitigation options to work effectively towards sustainable development. Key partners in these efforts include the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet). It is essential that these institutions, and society as a whole, grasp the issue of long-term planning to mitigate the impacts of climate change and prevent the occurrence of disasters.
In 2007, floods affected more than 300,000 people in the country and required more than $25 million for emergency response, and more than $130 million worth of direct damage. The devastation suggested that Ghana was not prepared for such a catastrophe. To make Ghana a climate resilient nation, UNDP supported state agencies through long term strategies to deal with climate change under the Africa Adaptation Programme (AAP). The Africa Adaptation Programme was implemented from 2010 to 2013, across 20 countries in Africa to help with the continent’s response to climate change and natural disasters, by building capacities at the government level for long-term planning for climate change, as well as implementing simple, effective interventions to explore and demonstrate what climate change adaptation means on the ground.
A case in point is the Aowin Suaman District Assembly in the Western Region of Ghana, which received training to mainstream climate change and disaster risk reduction into their District Development Plans. The district was also supported to implement practical climate change adaptation projects such as the construction of a new light industrial market to relocate business owners that were working in flood-prone areas. Through the participation of local stakeholders, the AAP has also supported the construction of foot bridges at key crossing points in the Keta District so that children can cross over flooded lands during the rainy season to attend school, as well as women and men to commute to work or to the market.
The AAP pilot activities in Aowin Suaman and Keta are excellent examples of how simple, and relatively low cost, measures can help communities attain short-term and long-term benefits through mainstreaming the issues of climate change and disaster risk reduction into development planning. Through these programmes, the UNDP strives to build a culture of disaster resilience enhancing the knowledge and understanding of the hazards types, tackling various vulnerabilities of the communities and generating innovative and indigenous solutions through capacity building and education.
The following are some of the successes the AAP has chalked in Ghana. With respect to mainstreaming Climate Change, the programme has supported the development of the National Climate Change Policy (NCCP) which was approved by Cabinet in May 2013. Moreover, all 170 administrative districts have been trained on mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). The initiative has also supported the integration of climate change (CC) into the Functional Organisation Assessment Tool which is a prerequisite for budgetary allocations to District Assemblies development projects and programmes. The AAP’s effort to mainstream CCA and DRR at the district levels led to 64 out of 149 districts (43%) that submitted their 2012 Composite Budget to have CCA activities mainstreamed and budgeted within their budgets. As a result, in 2012, districts in Ghana allocated over Gh¢ 27 million to implement CCA activities in their districts. The African Adaptation programme also championed the incorporation of CCA and DRR into the Ghana Building Code.
The AAP was successful in building capacity of high level leaders in Ghana. For instance, Members of Parliament, Council of State, the Government’s Economic Management Team, Regional Ministers, Regional Coordinating Directors, District Chief Executives, Chief Directors and Directors of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), Religious leaders, and Commissioners of the National Development Planning Commission were engaged through High Level Interactive Workshops to create awareness on climate change and deliberate on how they could support mainstreaming of CCA and DRR in their various areas of authority. In all, more than 160 high level leaders in Ghana were engaged and commitments made to facilitate the mainstreaming process at various levels.
The AAP tested approaches to enhance CCA capacity in 5 pilot districts through in-depth planning and implementaiton of CCA measures such as construction of a foot bridge (Keta District), relocation of markets and light industrial sites to a higher ground (Aowin-Suaman District) and providing pumps for dry-season farming (Sissala East and West Mamprusi Districts).
The Africa Adaption Programme has also supported the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) to improve its frequency, volume, and quality of weather data by installing 8 Automated Weather Stations (AWS) and 1 High Speed Computer and provided training on early warning signs to build the capacity of GMet Staff to gather, monitor, and utilize weather data for improved weather forecasting, early warning, and future climate projections.
Flood and drought vulnerability maps have been created for communities in all 5 AAP pilot districts using GPS and GIS. Safe havens have also been identified and mapped and evacuation plans prepared for the flood-prone areas. A Climate Change Community of Practice (CoP) was established, comprising experienced and young professionals and researchers who collect and analyze local climate data and use models for making future climate projections. They have been working in collaboration with the University of Cape Town Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG). This aside, the Government of Ghana and UNDP developed a project that seeks to continue AAP’s efforts in Early warning Systems establishment for the next 3 years called the Community Resilience through Early Warning (CREW).
The AAP has also supported 2 international workshops on climate change economics and finance for 58 Ghanaians and 53 International participants drawn from relevant institutions. These training workshops explored, in great detail, various climate change finance options (including modalities) as well as the economic analysis of various adaptation options. An initial design document for establishing a Functional Institutional Finance Mechanism for climate change in Ghana was developed based on recommendations and good practices from other countries gathered through the workshop.
UNDP continues to support the Government of Ghana to become “climate-finance ready” through facilitation provided through the establishment and access of various international climate finance such as the Green Climate Fund and the Adaptation
Fund, where Ghana’s proposal for the Adaptation Fund was technically approved in 2013. AAP supported the development of a Guide for Mainstreaming Climate Change and Disaster Risk into national development policies and planning. The guides were disseminated and utilized by District Budget Officers to incorporate CCA into their district plans and budgets. Moreover, the AAP published an Indigenous Knowledge Atlas that compiles local knowledge related to climate and weather through research conducted in the 5 pilot districts.
Drought and Flood Hazard Maps have been developed for 5 AAP pilot districts. Various audio-visual materials have also been developed, such as: A documentary on CCA in Ghana, local adaptation in Northern Ghana and Burkina Faso. These documentaries were utilized as materials for the high level awareness raising events. Finally, local theater groups were trained to perform informational skits on CCA performed at the various awareness raising events.