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.

sahel

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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