The District Chief Executive for the Ellembelle District in the Western Region, Kwasi Bonzo, has observed that the devastating effect of climate change on people and the environment could be mitigated.
He has therefore called on Planning Officers and stakeholders at the district levels to be assisted to incorporate actions that could reduce the effect of the phenomenon in their decisions making. Climate change’s effect on the environment, according to him was real even though consensus on the phenomenon was sometimes divided and inconclusive.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop organized by USAID for stakeholders in the Ellembelle District, Mr Bonzoh was of the view that “the phenomenon [climate change] has science backing it, and a lot of what is happening around us are evidence of the presence of something unusual happening to our climatic conditions”.
He continued: “It is for this reason that wherever the effect is felt, stakeholders should be assisted to harmonise plans to mitigate the effect. We know of the rising sea levels, the warming of the oceans, changes in the rainfall patterns, flooding and all, speak of the need to adopt climate responsive interventions.”
A Planning Analyst with the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Michael Kissi Boateng, touching on the challenges confronting the district assemblies in fighting and mitigating climate change at the local level, stated: “At the assembly level, what we have observed is that some projects that are done at certain specifications in order to curtail the effect of a heavy downpour. For example, we have seen the specifications lowered for financial reasons. If the thickness of a road is supposed to be 4.5 inches, we have had some assemblies reduce it to, say, two inches. When it rains and cars use it for a short duration, you see potholes, and the road wears out faster than we anticipated.”
The NDPC Analyst continued: “Others are that there we have several hundreds of uncompleted projects dotted around the districts in the country. If these projects are responsive to climate change, our inability to complete these projects stifle steps to combat climate change, not forgetting the increasing implementation of projects outside medium term development plans.”
Dr. Abdul-Razak Saeed, a Senior Climate Resilience Analyst with the USAID Integrated Resource and Resilience Planning Project, underscored the need to act without hesitation to mitigate the effects of climate change on people and the environment.
He asked: “What if farmers plant and the rains don’t come? What if the amount of rainfall we anticipate to fall into the Akosombo Dam for power doesn’t fall? What if the rains come, but are beyond what we have known and planned for? What if the sea rises such that our fishermen are unable to get fish, or the rising level of the sea washes away communities? These are some reasons, according to him, why we need to prepare and inculcate climate change resilience policies into our planning.
In attendance at the workshop were officials from the Environmental Protection Agency, assembly members, planning officers, representatives from some non-governmental organisations and staff from the Ellembelle District Assembly.