Semi-arid regions need long term planning – Stakeholders

Monday 9th March, 2015
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Accra, March 9, GNA – Climate change and adaptation experts say responses to climate threats in Semi-Arid Regions (SARs) have mainly been short-term solutions, such as early warning systems, famine relief, and soil and water conservation.

According to the experts, long term climate projections suggest that by mid-century, a more profound response would be needed, including the transformation of livelihood.

The experts were speaking at a national workshop organised by the Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS), University of Ghana, to introduce experts to the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project in Ghana.

Professor Chris Gordon, Director of IESS, said the ASSAR project, involving 14 countries across Africa, Central and South Asia would enable proactive, longer-term approaches to climate change adaptation in SARs, while supporting the management of current risks.

The countries include, Ghana and Mali; East Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda; Southern Africa, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Southern Asia and India.

He said the main objectives of the project are to improve understanding of the underlying drivers and determinant of vulnerability of livelihood systems; assess the strengths and weaknesses of current adaptation practices and policies, and advance understanding on the constraining and enabling factors that determine successful adaptation.

The five-year project, he said, was multidisciplinary, drawing on various disciplines to address the complex interactions among climate, biophysical, social, political and economic dynamics.

Prof Gordon noted that, in Ghana, the semi-arid area of the northern region was the focus of the research.

He said so far, an initial diagnosis and evidence gathering on current understanding of the issues had been carried out with findings that harsh climatic and non-climatic stressors in SARs led to high vulnerability.

“SARs are generally marginalised from political and economic development priorities as usually only short term response strategies to climate stresses are addressed,” he said, and stressed the need for long-term projections and far reaching adaptation actions to address the issues.

Participants also identified lack of institutional coordination, inadequate government control of funding and resources, communication gaps, poor prioritization of climate change agenda, and lack of long-term planning as threats to climate change and adaptation planning process.

GNA