Climate-proof adaptation revitalizes a local economy and empowers women in Ghana
21 June 2021
Through an EU-supported UNCDF project, life is expected to return to normal for farmers and school children in a small community in the Ashanti region of Ghana.
Climate change and unpredictable flooding make the river in Mframafaw periodically impassable. It is a huge problem for Madam Meliama Sulemana, a farmer, and her seven children. When it floods, Madam Meliama and her children are cut off from the nearby market where she sells her produce, and from their school.
After consultations with the local community, a culvert and a bridge are being constructed to channel the floodwaters away from the community and provide a safe access-way to local services. The construction is under the Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana (GrEEn) project. The GrEEn project is a four-year initiative of the European Union, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana, SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). It is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa, SNV and UNCDF. It aims at creating greater economic and employment opportunities for youth, women and returning migrants by promoting and supporting sustainable, green businesses in the Ashanti and Western Regions of Ghana; helping people like Ms Sulemana.
Mframafaw is a lowland farming community, about 25km from Offinso in the Ashanti region of Ghana. A few years ago, Ms Sulemana and her family depended on income from the farm for food and school fees for her children. She planted maize, oranges and rice. Her high hopes for the future have faded as climate change has made it difficult for her and her family to make a living or access basic services like schools and hospitals.
“The situation has gotten so bad that we leave the fruits to rot in the farms since we do not see any point in harvesting them when we know there’s no way to get them to the market” said Ms Sulemana. “In the past I used to make enough money from my farm and was even able to save but now I barely earn enough to feed my family. Without external assistance, pregnant women in this town find it impossible to access healthcare during the raining season,” she added.
Today, the GrEEn project is taking the Local Climate Adaptive Living facility to Phase II in Ghana, using LoCAL's innovative performance-based climate resilience grants, hosted by UNCDF, to channel finance to local governments for locally led adaptation actions. Activities, guided by the needs of the community, might include land regeneration, green economic investments or climate proofed infrastructure development, as in Mframafaw.
One of the benefits of the LoCAL approach is its flexibility, allowing local communities to identify their needs and collaborate in finding a climate-proof solution.
Over the years, the village and local government authorities have tried to construct makeshift bridges over the river, which now breaks its banks every rainy season. The bridges are washed away whenever there is a heavy downpour. The women also tried splitting their harvest into small bundles to carry on their heads through the floodwaters, or contract local men with access to motorized tricycles to help them transport their goods. But these options proved either time consuming, hazardous and or costly.
According to Ms Sulemana and other women in the community, the plans for the bridge and culvert come just in time as climate change had collapsed commercial farming activities and the village children were missing out on school.
With the construction of the bridge and culvert under the GrEEn initiative, children will now find it easy to travel to school and farming activities are expected to resume.