BACKGROUND OF STUDY
Increasing global warming has led to a change in the magnitude and frequency of some extreme weather events in sub-Saharan Africa that has impacted on its social and economic development (IPCC, 2014). These countries are more vulnerable due to their high dependence on climate sensitive sectors which reduces their capacity to adequately adapt to the changing climate (Nordhaus, 1991; Stern, 2006; Akram and Hamid, 2015). The agricultural sector employs the majority of the rural population and as a result has the potential to exacerbate their vulnerabilities as their “… livelihoods depend on already overstrained climate-sensitive resources and their social welfare systems are weak” (Chalise and Naranpanwa, 2016:1). Recent reductions in agricultural production in these regions have been attributed to late rains, increased drought, and decreased soil fertility among, others (Yengoh et al., 2010; Stanturf et al., 2011). This situation is likely to worsen under future climate change as adaptation by the local community is restricted as a consequence of increasing poverty (Nelson and Agbey, 2005).
According to IISD, IUCN and SEI (2003), addressing future climate change impacts will need to be based on collaboration and adaptive capacity of society and the country at large, which must be locally initiated by the people and supported by the government and other institutions. The successful implementation of adaptation strategies therefore requires both local and national mandates (Corfee-Morlot et al., 2009). National mandates are critical in ensuring the implementation of climate change adaptation as they mobilize political will, support research institutions, establish networks that promote information sharing and also facilitate and finance mechanisms (Noble et al., 2014). On the other hand, local mandates foster intergovernmental coordination and facilitate the implementation of climate change adaptation through individual and collective actions at all levels (Agrawal and Perrin,
2008; Noble et al., 2014). As a result, national policies and development projects must reflect the local communities’ interests and experiences in order to effectively assist communities’ full potential to engage in a successful climate change adaptation (Savane, 2013; Komba and Muchapondwa, 2015). Thus, for successful adaptation strategies targeted towards smallholder farmers, the compliance and devotion of formal and informal institutions at local, regional, national and global actors are indispensable.
Reduction of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the agriculture sector observed in recent years in Ghana is ascribed to the negative impacts of climate variability/change on the agricultural produce (GNCCP, 2012).
Poverty in Ghana is polarized to the rural areas (UNDP, 2013), especially in the savannah ecological zones of the Upper East and Upper West Regions of the country. The Lawra and Nandom Districts have been recognized to have unsustainable land management practices relating to poor soil organic matter management in addition to increased deforestation and bush burning which contributes to drought risks and high soil temperatures in the area (Padgham et al., 2015). This situation is likely to worsen under future climate change as adaptation by the local farmers is restricted as a result of increasing poverty. Thus, their ability to effectively adapt to the changing climate will be incapacitated (Nelson and Agbey, 2005).
The success of effective implementation of agricultural climate change adaptation in this region depends on the connected efforts of decision makers in institutions (formal and informal) to ensure equitable access to their resources. This is to reduce climate risks through the reinforcement of adaptive capacity of the rural poor in the communities. This is to better augment policy formulation of institutions under agricultural climate change
adaptation in this region.
The rationale behind this research is examining the relevance of the implementation of agricultural activities as means of adaptation under climate change among smallholder farmers in the Upper West region of Ghana by institutions (formal and informal).
Despite the fact that farmers in developing countries have “…demonstrated considerable ability to adapt to uncertain climate,” their ability to adapt to future climates will depend on the support they receive from institutions (Challinor et al., 2007). Even though community-based approaches to climate change adaptation implemented in the Upper West, Upper East and Northern Regions of Ghana looks promising, future climate change impacts will need external interventions from government institutions and NGOs for efficiency and sutainability. In this regard, the Africa Adaptation Programme in Ghana focused on the promotion of a holistic and integrated approach to climate change adaptation (Sova et al., 2014). Thus, there is a need to investigate into institutions (formal and informal) efforts, achievements and challenges in implementing climate change agricultural adaptation strategies.
The research is based on the proposition that the implementation of climate change agricultural adaptation strategies requires concerted efforts of decision makers in various institutions.