Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) and the climate change adaptation process
The impact of changing climate in Ghana is so evident even to the ordinary man on the street. One does not have to be a farmer who depends on solely rainfall to plant his crops to notice that there has been a major change in our rainfall pattern. The excessive heat in recent years is felt by all and how many of us have not paused once to wonder how warm our world is becoming? Some of us living in the urban areas like Accra and Kumasi may not be depending directly on streams and rivers for our water needs like the people in Adubinsu and Mmoframfaadwen do, so we may not be seeing at first hand the drying of streams and rivers. However, since our water invariably comes from dams built on rivers whose sources are drying up, we are equally vulnerable.
Whether we stop producing greenhouse gases (very impossible) or not, we are already committed to some level of climate change and there is the need to adapt to these changes since we have nowhere else but this earth to stay. How then can Ghana adapt to the impacts of climate change? Effective adaptation to impacts of climate change requires a careful assessment of impacts of and vulnerability to climate change and subsequently working out adaptation needs of the people. A critical requirement of such an exercise is good quality information. This is where the usefulness of institutions such as the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) cannot be over-emphasised. GMet is mandated to collect climatic information for further development into useable products for the country. Where the capacity for collecting such relevant information and assessing climate change is not adequate, our ability to plan adaptation measures and adapt effectively becomes highly constrained.
A cursory look around the few GMet stations scattered around the country will give even a day-old baby an idea of how resourced the agency is in leading the country’s adaptation efforts. Ghana cannot go on like this. We cannot plan adaptation strategies in a vacuum! We cannot just guess what is likely to happen by how we feel or what some people elsewhere say. We need to know the current situation to project what is likely to happen in the future judging from the current situation, before any meaningful climate change adaptation strategies can be planned. This entails improved observations; improved regional, national and global data, as well as denser networks; recovery of historical data; building of support among user communities that have a demand for climate information; and promoting greater collaboration between providers and users of climate information.
My contact with the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) has always left me thinking about how serious Ghana is when it comes to issues of climate change; something that threatens food production and water resources, life and death. GMet needs major attention. This agency is critical to the security of our country! Some serious attention should be paid at providing the Agency with the needed equipment for effective climate observation. There should be more observation stations in many parts of the country to ensure effective monitoring. GMet staff needs regular and constant upgrading to help them catch up with the fast evolving field of climate science. The many self-motivated, hardworking and enthusiastic young men and women at the agency has should be helped to help this country.