“The green frogs, no, toads that used to hop from one corner of our garden just around our backyard there are no more. There were some wild birds that gave no rest in our rice farms. These rodents we used to see were admirable and beautiful with colourful feathers but they are no more. Where did all these animals go?” This was a recount of events of nature by a 75 year old women and a mother of six, Kwajin Meinbah, based at Tatale in the Zabzuzu/Tatale District of the northern region ofGhana.
She’s no more into farming but now waiting impatiently to join her ancestors she told me with a forced smile that revealed her fallen teeth. Afarmer? I asked childishly.
“Oh, boys of these days, look, I never allowed my husbands, to beat me in farming, the secret was that I used to supply some of my husbands, seeds of maize and rice because I was an aggressive woman farmer who wanted to portray that the difference between women and men is very thin. I supplied paper, okra, groundnuts and garden eggs freely to my fellow women. While I was still active, I never bought or begged for these ingredients until I left farming”, she said.
Swinging her right hand back and forth, Madam Meinbah who spoke passionately about farming and hardworking never failed to hit at me “you, modern children, you think farming is a bad thing it is because you are all lazy, and your cures will be poverty, hunger and starvation”.
She never stepped in a classroom before and therefore did not have formal education but that does not mean she could not reason. She said in 70s, when “fertimiza”, (chemical fertilizer) was introduced some farmers including herself spoke against the use of that white man thing. “Well, some accepted and used it and the very first time, they got bumper harvest and became vulnerable to the “fertimiza” afterwards and that caused serious loses, the beginning of their food insecurity”.
She explained that when farmers began using chemical fertilizers, they noticed some changes, strange things, the green frogs, earth worms, and wild birds were reducing in population but they claimed it was a sign of the anger of the Gods. “Each day people picked and threw or buried about three frogs in their farms and it became topical issues for discussion. This happened when “fertimiza” became popular among farmers”, she recounted.
Madam Meinbah narrated that in 1986, rains failed the farmers seriously and that brought famine to the country the following year (1987). And this was the year Ghana witnessed serious food crisis, untold hardship, and economic breakdown.
“Some of us (women farmers) could not cope after the crisis and have to abandon farming as a career to assist our husbands to feed the household. This brought our farming career to a halt” she lamented.
Her testimony depict the impact of climate change on vulnerable people particularly women and children. Madam Kwajin is part of the vulnerable and disadvantaged persons in society who are hard hit by the impacts of climate change.
At that year it was not only food supply that was affected, water supply was hard hit, there was also health crisis, and mass exodus of the youth from Ghana across the boarders particularly to Nigeria, minimal conflicts emerged over resources among the people in some part of the country. Rare Signs of climate change began in Ghana and parts of Sahara Africa region in 1986 but as it were the governments at the time never planned to putclimate resilience policies and programme to support the people to cope with the impact.
After this drought, Ghana had not been able to catch up with food security. Food had always been in short supply afterwards, the never ending water crisis also popped out and women and children continue to walk for kilometers to access drinking water for household chores, no alternative energy policies had been effectively implemented to stop the indiscriminate felling of trees, and youth migration from rural communities to urban centers in search for non existing jobs has become a usual phenomenon.
This is because agricultural lands no long support lucrative or profitable farming, the rainfall patterns had changed (now few rain drops), unpredictable weather patterns, flooding and unbearable heat continue to be recorded, and poverty, hunger, starvation and deprivation had gone pass their peak.
The country, according to the Ghana Wild Life department had also lost significant number of wild animal species, such as green frogs or toads, earth worms and other soil manipulating living organisms because of ever increasing temperatures and flooding.
Now the government had realized the need for green economy as she struggles to cope with the unemployment and development, hence the development of climate change policy framework.
Like Madam Meinbah who couldn’t tell the whereabouts of all these beautiful birds, butterflies, worms and green frogs that beautify the environment at her youthful days, so is my question, who caused climate change?
So tackling climate change would not only need cash but governmental and individual actions, support and willingness, and result oriented adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce the impact of climate change on people’s livelihoods.
It is against this background that Care International’s Climate Change Adaptation and Learning Programme (ALP) which seeks to increase the capacities of vulnerable communities and households to adapt to the effects of climate change using what they called community based adaptation approach is laudable.
The community based adaptation hinged on four key elements; promoting climate resilient livelihoods strategies, building capacities of local NGOs and local public institutions, disaster risk reduction strategies and addressing the underlying causes of vulnerability through social mobilization for empowerment and advocacy to influence policies implementations.
Until we are able to take the needed actions, developed the needed development plans, and generated legal frame works to support the implementation of climate change resilience plan actions, we will continue to witness, mass extinction of animal species, wild plants, water crisis, youth migration, conflicts, disasters and food crisis. That is why the fight against climate change, or tackling climate change needs multi-facets approach. If we cannot bring the green toads back to Madam Meinbah’s backyard, we can prevent the crawling lizard from vanishing into thin air through climate resilience policies and programmes.