Desertification and climate change

Desertification is defined as persistent degradation of dry land ecosystems by human activities — including unsustainable farming, mining, overgrazing and clear-cutting of land — and by climate change. More than 35 % of the land area of Ghana is prone to desertification. Recent research indicates that the land area prone to desertification and drought has almost doubled during last two decades (United Nations).

Historical data has shown that a 1ºC increase in mean annual temperature each decade has been recorded for Ghana since 1960. In addition, dry spells in the Volta Basin have been extending in duration, and mean annual rainfall is decreasing in the southwest. Northern region, which is the main source for crop production, is expected to increase the temperature by 1.0 – 3.0°C by 2060.   (Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool). Ghana relays a lot to hydro power and Volta is one of the main sources of energy. Currently the country is having blackouts due to the lack of energy as the dry weather has evaporated all the water from the rivers.

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Classroom activities

Discuss how those activities seen in pictures might be connected with desertification.

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Kofi Annan said in 2006, “If we don’t take action, current trends suggest that by 2020 an estimated 60 million people could move from desertified areas of sub-Saharan Africa towards North Africa and Europe, and that worldwide, 135 million people could be placed at risk of being uprooted”. What do you think would be the effects of such process?

You are a member of the committee of climate adaptation of Ghana and are asked to strategise for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Make an action plan for Ghana.

The issue of desertification is not new — it played a significant role in human history, contributing to the collapse of several large empires, and the displacement of local populations. Investigate what cultures might have been affected by desertification and how it changed the lives of the people?

Case study about Obane`s family

Obane is 37 years old and she is a basket weaver. In the picture you can see her 4 children playing with a neighbouring boy in their home. Most of them are already at School age and they attend Kongo primary School. Obane is married to a gold miner and the family shares household with 2 other families.  They have a small piece of land, where they grow corn and millet during rainy season, and few free ranged goats and chicken.  Every morning and evening Obane and her children have to walk for 5 minutes to fetch the water.

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What do you think would be the future of Obane`s children?

Does desertification and climate change affect their lives, if so then how?

Are children able to do something to prevent desertification, if so then what?

Materials:

 Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool: http://www.gaip-info.com/

United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/events/desertificationday/background.shtml

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Harmattan in North-Ghana

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Landscape of Kongo village
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It can get pretty cold during Harmattan

 

From December to March North-Ghana experiences Harmattan season-the time when strong desert winds carry the sands from Sahel. It is the winter period in Ghana, with low humidity, hot days and cool nights. In the mornings  one can experience a huge dust cloud and really chilly weather, most of the locals wear winter jackets and scarves or respirators as it would be really hard to travel anywhere without covering your nose and mouth. Dust gets into everywhere and even tough most of common diseases such as cholera and malaria are not so prevailing this time due to the lack of water bodies, all sorts of cold and dust related diseases are pretty common this time. So yes people in Ghana can experience cough or stuffy nose. Harmattan is extremely dry season and most of the nature turns to yellow or orange, beside the huge mango trees, that start to blossom in the middle of that period and produce it`s fruits in early March.  Dry season farming can be done only in small fenced areas with water availability close by. There will be no millet, rice, corn or beans growing during that period and people have to get by with less food and water. Dry season farming mostly focuses on tomatoes and onions. In South-Ghana such extremes are not present and harmattan exposes itself there just for few weeks in January. Also in South there are 2 rainy seasons and in North only 1.

Even tough most of western kids have learnt at School about desertification local students in North have no clue why such kind of dusty weather occurs. I have been in many Schools to talk about soils and desertification and even tough there is a topic of soils and it`s protection in the National curriculum there is not much awareness about what actions cause desertification and how to fight for the lands to remain arable. There is a lack of understanding that all of us can and have to change the course of action and stop the activities that are causing desertification to start working on the activities to avoid it.  Following blog posts will give background information and learning ideas to trigger the discussions in Schools about climate change and food scarcity.

 

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Dry season farming in Pelungu, North Ghana

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Estonian Independence Day – national dishes in Toila Gymnasium

We are students from Toila Gymnasium and currently we are in 11th grade. In honour of 97th Estonian Independence Day (24th February) we decided to make three different national dishes. Cooking these dishes is easy and fast. We hope that you try them out and find them delicious.

Enjoy your dishes! 

 

Toila Gümnaasium
Estonia – a small country with a beautiful nature, unique ethnic patterns and friendly people. Estonian people always stick together no matter what happens and protect their homeland with passion. We can bring out friendship in our own country and also between other countries by sticking together.

 

Classic potato salad

            Ingredients:

  • 10-15 potatoes
  • 4 carrots
  • 5-6 eggs
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 4-5 pickles
  • 1 large onion
  • 400g-500g sausage
  • 400ml sour cream
  • 400ml mayonnaise
  • Salt, sugar, pepper, herbs etc

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How to make?

  1. Boil the pealed potatoes and carrots until tender (about 15-20minutes). Drain well, cool slightly, then chop them into small pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a seperate pot of water to a boil. Carefully add the eggs; cook for 10min. Peel the eggs under cold running water, then roughly chop.
  3. Put chopped potatoes, carrots and eggs into a bowl.
  4. Chop the cucumber, pickles and sausage into a small pieces. Add them to the same bowl.
  5. For a dressing take a different bowl. Mix sour cream and mayonnaise. Add salt, sugar, pepper, herbs and a chopped onion (to taste).
  6. Pour the dressing on the salad ingredients and mix them together.
  7. Serve immediately or let the salad sit for awhile to soak up the dressing.

 

Sprat sandwich

            Ingredients:

  1. Black bread
  2. Sprats
  3. Green onion
  4. Butter
  5. One boiled egg

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How to make?

Spread the butter on the bread. Clean up the sprats. Put the cleaned sprats on the bread. Slice the egg and the onion and put it on top of the sprats. Your sandwich is ready to eat! 🙂

 

Cream of wheat/semolina

            Ingredients:

  1. 1 l mixed juice with water
  2. 1,5 ml semolina (cream of wheat)
  3. 0, 5-1 ml sugar

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How to make?

Mix the juice (200ml) with water (total should have a liter of liquid) if necessary add sugar. Heat the juice to boil then add semolina (cream wheat) and mix quickly. Boil on low heat about 15 minutes, until the semolina is thick. For making cream of wheat/samolina the porridge should not be too thick. Pour the mixture into a larger bowl, let cool down, and then whisk until it is fluffy and creamy. Serve it with or without a cold milk.

 

 

 

                                  

Omushenye, simsim and milk

Material: beans, sweet potatoes, milk, simsim (sesame seeds), firewood, salt and water

Prepare beans, wash them, put them in a clean sufuria (bowl), put enough water, then light fire and put on sufuria. Let it take 2 hours, then put in sweet potatoes, which have been chopped and washed properly. It will take 1 hour to be ready, then cook it the way you cook ugali almost 1 hour. Then it will be ready to eat. We call it Omushenye in our language.

Prepare simsim, wash them properly, put them in a clean sufuria and put it on fire to make them dry. After that put them in a container called Eshinu in our language and start mixing by using a heavy stick until it becomes soft like heavy porridge. Therefore take clean cups and put in milk. The food now is ready to eat. This food is carrying nutrients, energy and vitamins to make body healthy and strong. In our culture this food is prepared in special occations. During the time we cooked it at school, pupils and teachers were happy, because it is a respectful food.

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Luhya traditional food in Kenya

Omushenye:

Omushenye (a mixture of boiled beans and boiled sweet potatoes) is a luhya traditional food which is liked by most of the families because of being nutritious. In it, it comprises of proteins, carbohydrates vitamins and calcium that makes the body healty and strong. Proteins help the body by building up worn out cells and tissues. Carbohydrates help the body by adding energy that makes body strong. Vitamins protect the body against various diseases like rickets, scuvy, kwarshioko, marasmus.

How omushenye is prepared

Either dried or fresh beans are boiled/cooked to be soft to the chew. Fresh clean sweet potatoes are cut in pieces and added to the already boiling beans so as to boil together and from one mixture which will be mached to be called omushenye. Salt is added at the earlier stage before the end of the boiling. It can be left to cool then served with fish, meat, chicken stew.

Omunyobo:

Omunyobo (fine mashed roasted monkey nuts) is a luhya traditional food that is favoured by many people for it is noutritious and boosts body growth and development. Protenous content is high which helps in repairing the worn out cells and tissues. Omunyobo also contains calcium that builds up bone formation and development and also helps gums and teeth to be firm and strong enough. It contains fats that make the body skin to be moist, smooth to touch.

How to prepare Omunyobo

Omunyobo is prepared bu roasting dry monkey nuts. It is the mashed that it becomes fine and smooth to touch. The fat content in it makes omunyobo to be moist and fine. Omunyobo can be eaten with other solid foods like mashed bananas, sweet potatoes, yams, cassavas or irish potatoes, chips and chapatis.

Amabere amasatse:

Amabere amasatse (sour milk) contains microorganisms that protect the body against different diseases. The proteinous content in the milk builds up the body to be healthy.

How it is prepared

Fresh milk is kept in a guard for some days (can be 3-5 days) according to ones taste. The guard is shaken smoothly on the things to make up a heavy fine mixture. Other fresh milk can be added little by little depending on how one wants the level of sourness to be. One can drink with other solid food like sweet potatoes, cassavas, ugali, bananas, yams or chips. These food can be eaten as lunch or supper, for it is sweet and leaves one satisfied for long time.

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