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Effects of Climate Change on Poverty

Nigeria
The Chronicle
03/07/2010

The achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 has been the greatest priority of the government; however, poverty just wouldn't allow that to happen. Poverty is one of the factors dragging down the progress of the country; it is a stumbling blocking towards the government achieving a good standard of living for the people.

As if that is not enough, the emergence and effects of climate change in the world, but most especially in the developing world, seems to be deepening the level of poverty in the country each passing day.

The existence of climate change has made way for the decline of economy activities in the country, the stronghold of the economy has been adversely been affected through the incidents of climate change. Agriculture, which is the greatest contributor of the country's revenue, and the main survival of the people, has been affected greatly by climate change. Climate change has led to low production of agriculture produce, and destruction of many social amenities. The effect is not only on the environment and the economy of the country, but also in the daily activities of women as well.

What is climate change?

According to the Wikipedia, climate change is a change in the statistical properties of the climate system, when considered over periods of decades or longer, regardless of cause. Accordingly, fluctuations on periods shorter than a few decades, such as do not represent climate change.

The term sometimes is used to refer specifically to climate change caused by human activity, for example, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change defines climate change as "a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere, and which is in addition to natural climate variability, observed over comparable time periods."

In Ghana, climate change has been as a result of activities like industrial pollution, water pollution, heavy rains, long dry seasons, deforestation and sea erosion. All the regions in the country experience one of these activities.

In the Volta Region, at the town of Keta, sea erosion is gradually taking over the land every day. People's houses and properties have been taken over by the sea. The roads which make travelling easier have been washed away by the sea, making it very difficult to be used by two vehicles at a time.

Human activity such as deforestation can be considered a factor which has led to extreme effects of climate change in the country. In Ghana, as most of the population can be found in the rural areas, deforestation in this sense cannot be attributed to the government only, but the people who, day in and day out, cut down smaller trees in the forest for firewood, for domestic purposes in the rural areas, and is considered as saving cost and time.

Moreover, people involved in the illegal cutting down of trees for furniture and export purposes cannot be left out in the issue of deforestation, as their activities have the most effect on climate change.

According to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the cutting down of trees is the desiccation of previously moist forest soil, that is, the soil is exposed to the sun, gets baked, and the lack of canopy leaves nothing to prevent the moisture from quickly evaporating into the atmosphere.
The UNCED research indicates that the most recent survey on deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions, reports that deforestation may account for as much as 10% of current greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse gases are gases in the atmosphere that literally trap heat. There is a theory that as more greenhouse gasses are released into the atmosphere, more heat gets trapped. Thus, there is a global warming trend, in which the average temperature becomes progressively higher.

Climate change and agriculture

Agriculture in Ghana can be termed one of the main activities that the government and the people take pride in, as reports indicate that it employs about 60% of the nation's labour force, and presently contributes about 45% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and 35% of export earnings.

Food production in the country solely depends on the climate, that is to say, crop cultivation depends on the existing rain and weather pattern. Almost all the population relies on the product, both for domestic and commercial purposes. Many people in business have given a confirmation that owing to the present economic hardship, the involvement of any form of business does not go well, unless one is engaged in the sale of agriculture products.

According to them, since access and availability of food is one of the main concerns of most of the population, engaging in agriculture is a good source of income. This report concludes fairly that indeed, agriculture helps in the living standard of the people. As Ghana relies so much on the climate to boost the production of its agriculture produce, with the fast-changing of the climate in recent times, agriculture produce might be in danger.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), climate change will directly affect future food availability, and compound the difficulties of feeding the world's rapidly growing population. A report by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) indicates that statistics show that a total of 1.2 million Ghanaians have limited access to sufficient and nutritious food throughout the year, while another 2 million are at risk, or become food insecure during the lean season, or at the onset of a shock, natural, or man-made disaster.

Climate change effect on the people

In the northern parts of the country the effect of climate change has been very visible in the lives of women. The effect of the sun's rays in the northern part of the country has led to the disappearance of many water bodies, leading to the people experiencing water shortage coupled with the lack of potable water. Women, who are in charge of the household, have no choice than to walk for miles before getting one bucket of water to take care of the home. For some, due to the walking distance, they prefer to bring to the water-side their dirty clothes and that of their families to wash them there, instead of walking for several miles to just a bucket of water, which will not be even sufficient for washing.

According to these women, most of the water-bodies they rely on for their domestic chores have turned into dry lands, they have choice than to spend most of the hours of the day in search of water.

As if that is not enough, the effect of climate change in 2007 and 2010 during the rainy season, led to the loss of lives, properties, as well as farms, since the rain fell more than expected, causing flooding in many parts of the country. In June 2007, it was reported by the GNA that at least five persons had been confirmed dead, and hundreds of residents forced out of their houses, as floods wreaked havoc in parts of Accra after a downpour.

In the same year 2007, in the north of the country, at least 20 people have died and an estimated 400,000 have been affected. Many of them are now homeless. This year, NADMO has confirmed that about 11 have died as a result of floods in some parts of Ashaiman and Tema, moreover, people have also been found dead, 12 at Agona Swedru, a town 85 kilometres west of here, and one in the Volta Region.

The occurrence of these floods did not only lead to destruction of homes and properties of the people, but also took away their source of incomes as well.

According to many of the affected people, the location at which they transact their business was taken over by the rains, and for others the commodities or items they sell for income were destroyed as well, making them lose their sources of daily bread. Climate change, resulting in heavy rains, has in this sense increased the poverty level of the people, as they have to start with their livelihoods all over again.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.

    

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