Friday, June 17, 2016

Food Security: A Worrying Climate

We are all aware of global warming and climate change. We constantly see on the news or read on Facebook that the ice caps are melting and carbon emissions are destroying the ozone layer. However since being in Ghana I have seen firsthand the direct effect of climate change, especially in regards to food security and unemployment. After arriving in Bolgatanga, Upper East, in April and the start of the rainy season, we have spent at least one day a week speculating when the rain is going to come, as the temperature continues to rise. During the past three months it has rained only a handful of times, and while the landscape changes daily from a dusty orange to luscious green, the food variety at the market continues to dwindle. The effects of climate change are everywhere in Bolgatanga; from the high rate of poverty, to the desertification of the land.

Bolgatanga and Savelugu International Service volunteers teamed up to help keep Bolga clean for World Environment Day 
Never before have I been so aware of climate change, and seen how places could experience severe droughts one month and extreme flooding the next. Having watched documentaries, signed petitions, and read endless articles highlighting the dangers of climate change, I was still shocked to see its direct effects. The North of Ghana has been suffering from erratic weather for the past ten years, contributing to the desertification of the land – one of the greatest environmental challenges our world is facing. The domino effect of climate change is huge and it is dramatically impacting agriculture – the main source of employment, income, and food in the north – resulting in unemployment and food insecurity being widespread. It is estimated that around sixty percent of the north live in poverty, with thirty percent of children being chronically malnourished.

Our project partner TradeAID Integrated aims to eradicate poverty through setting up and developing sustainable businesses. Since arriving in Bolgatanga with ICS our team has been working with the INCOME Project, which specifically works with artisans in the region. The INCOME Project offers an alternative source of income for people; instead of relying solely on agriculture, people can use their craft skills to create new business ventures. 

Sumbrungu, Bolgatanga. 

The success of these businesses is evident; TradeAID are shipping handmade baskets worldwide, and are hosting the Bolgatanga International Craft and Arts Fair (BICAF) for the third year which allows artisans to promote and sell their products. BICAF is now an international fair, which has increased tourism in Bolgatanga, creating not only more revenue for craft groups but for the town in general.

While developing the craft industry in the region is creating a source of employment and money for people, it is only a short term solution, for a long term issue.  The work carried out by TradeAID is a valuable source of alternative income for many, but mass poverty and food insecurity are still prevalent in the Upper East. The bottom line is that if we hadn’t polluted the planet to the extent that we have, there would be little recourse for people to learn new skills and forge alternative forms of income. It is a stark reminder that we all have a responsibility to reduce global poverty, and this includes taking responsibility for the condition of our planet. 

Photo Credit: Mireille Kouyo 

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