The impacts of climate change comes in different forms often alternating with time and the seasons. However, the geography of a place can lead to a double, or more burden of climate change’s impact at a time especially where there is little mitigation and adaptation strategies in place.
Ghana has a coastline of 539 km inhabited by a larger proportion of the nation’s 27 million population and shared by four regions namely the Volta, Greater Accra, Central and the Western regions. The Western region is the part of country bordering the Ivory Coast while to Volta region shares a border with Togo in the east. Almost the entire length of the country’s coastline has suffered from the impacts of tidal waves. However, some places have almost been submerged by tides whiles others are constantly hit every now and then.
Fishermen after the tides at central region. Photo: Elikem Sewordor & Evans Wovenu
For the people of Blekusu and Agavedzi in the Ketu south municipality of the Volta region of Ghana, though coastal erosion is very common, a tide as high as one witnessed recently, was last experienced some forty years ago.
In the early hours of Sunday, the 11th of June, 2017, the people of Blekusu, Agavedzi and other surrounding fishing communities in the Ketu south municipality experienced the worse tides that many have never seen in their lives. Around 02:30 am Sunday morning, the people, predominantly fishermen and fishmongers were awakened by water from the sea in their bedrooms. The water flooded most parts of the communities and affected about 180 households. The ravaging sea waters also destroyed some roads while others have been completely covered by sea water. As at Monday morning, about 1500 people rendered homeless by the flood found shelter in schools, church buildings and other public places. Others were seen in the flood water trying to salvage their properties from the flood waters. Most schools were closed and all other economic activities were brought to a halt.
However, there is a double burden as the flood water from the sea has been increased by a heavy downpour on Monday morning, about 24 hours after the tidal waves hit hard on them. All efforts by the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) proved futile as sea water to flow inland and the clouds continue to grow thicker for more rains.
Photo: Elikem Sewordor & Evans Wovenu
Photo: Elikem Sewordor & Evans Wovenu
The country is currently experiencing one of the heaviest and prolonged rainfall seasons in the last few years. The rains started in late April and unlike in the last few years, has continued heavily through the month of May to June and more rain has been forecasted till early July. The south-west monsoon, a moisture-laden wind, brings a lot of rain between May-July to most countries in West Africa. The last few years, however, witnessed a distorted pattern of the rainy season, with rains being heavy on some occasions but lasting for a very short period. This year’s rains are not only heavy but on course to run the full lapse of the raining season. A situation most farmers thought was unfortunate because they had not prepared adequately for the rain. Most of them invested a lot into preparing the land last year and the years before but the rains were inadequate and came at the wrong times.
Also in the central region over the weekend was the washing ashore of a shark in Gomoa feteh. The dead shark was seen in the early hours of Sunday the 11th of June 2017. Although the cause of the shark’s death is unknown, most fishermen believed it must have been dragged ashore by the waves and killed as a result.
In the Western region, a heavy downpour rendered most residents of Nzema East district homeless. Residents of Axim and its environs had their buildings and other belongings destroyed by the heavy rains. Although the tides were high here too, most of the devastation over the weekend came from heavy rains. Axim is known as the town with the highest annual rainfall in Ghana. However, floods were not common. This is because of the generally green nature of Axim and the Western region as a whole and the role that natural vegetation play in flood prevention. Most people have attributed the recent floods to the increasing mining activities in the Western region and the pressure on the natural vegetation as a result of population growth in response to the commercial production of oil since 2010.
Climate change and its effects are knocking hard on the doors of mankind. In a developing country like Ghana, the impact on agriculture puts the livelihood of more than half of the population at full risk while a shift in occupation is almost impossible because of a lack of education and skills to suit in an alternative livelihood setting. Climate change threatens every aspect of life including man’s own existence. Denying the effects can described as deliberate ignorance. But like flood waters, the time to act is when the water gets to the feet not when reaches the neck.