A findings from the Regional Diagnostic Study (RDS) conducted in Ghana and Mali has identified the high dependency on donor communities for funds to implement adaptation projects as some of the barriers of adaptation to climate change in Africa.

Others include the inadequate integration of land management and water resource planning, particularly at watershed and river basin scales, which hinders the management of the negative impacts of water extraction on downstream users, and the extensification of agriculture onto drought-prone soils and grasslands, which reduces the access of pastoralists to pastoral corridors and generates herder-farmer conflict in many regions.

The study was conducted by the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) Project to develop a systematic understanding of existing knowledge of climate change trends, impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptation strategies and identify the key barriers and enablers of effective adaptation in semi-arid regions.

ASSAR is a research project being undertaken in the semi-arid regions of Africa and Asia, examining the dynamics and drivers of vulnerability, while exploring ways to enhance the resilience of people, local organisations and governments.

It aims at promoting climate adaptation policies and practices that are effective, widespread and sustainable. In West Africa ASSAR focuses on the dry sub-humid band that extends from the Upper West Region of northern Ghana through the southern Mali, referred to as the Wa-Bobo-Sikasso transect.

The study is also to identify gaps in research, policy and practice related to climate change adaptation and provides a foundation for developing an integrated regional research programme on climate change vulnerability and adaptation.

It looks at a number of barriers and enablers, which reflect a wide range of actions that different institutions and actors are taking to have clear implications for constraining or promoting adaptive capacities and adaptation outcomes in the important areas like development, gender and governance.

Under governance, the study revealed that lack of land tenure security demotivates land users to adopt new practices, and the traditional land tenure system also marginalises smallholders; in adequate communication and coordination within national level institutions and across national to district scale are also barriers of adaptation to climate change.

It also mentioned governments’ decentralization challenges that render transfer of authority to local governments incomplete; top-down policy interventions for managing natural resources that lack local incentives and lock local communities out of resource access, and ineffective mechanisms or limited funds for implementing national adaptation policies.

On gender barriers, the study identified high labour burdens and inadequate access to education as a constraint on women’s ability to diversify their livelihoods; limited livelihood or technologic option, which constrains women’s range of responses for managing risk and adapting to change.

Others include traditional gender norms that manifest in unequal access to production resources and decision-making processes and the predominance of male migration that leave vulnerable groups, including women, youth and disabled dependents, exposed to both climatic and non-climatic shocks, particularly where remittance flows are weak or missing.

The study also mentioned improvements in the channelling of weather information to local communities, increasing evidence of mainstreaming of climate into different sectoral policies and strategies, and the increasing adoption of early-maturing crop varieties, though there are risks in relying too heavily on these varieties given inter-annual climate variability, among others, as some of the enablers.

The study recommended the next phase of ASSAR Regional Research Programme (RRP) in Ghana and Mali to build upon the RDS findings.

It said the RRP will consist of an in-depth field investigation of the biophysical, governance, institutional, social differentiation, gender and knowledge-sharing aspects around the identified barriers, enablers and knowledge gaps.



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