Adaptation to climatic hazards in the savannah ecosystem: improving adaptation policy and action
People in the savannah ecosystem of Ghana have historically experienced a range of climatic hazards that have affected their livelihoods. In view of current climate variability and change and the projected increase in extreme events, adaptation to climate risks is vital. Policies have been put in place across sub-Saharan Africa in accordance with international agreements to enhance adaptation. At the same time, local people, through experience, have learned to adapt. This paper examines current policy actions and their implementation alongside an assessment of barriers to local adaptation. Policy documents on agriculture, water, roads, housing and health- sectors that support key livelihoods and which were identified as highly climate sensitive- were analysed, while questionnaire interviews and focus group discussions were held with key stakeholders in the Upper East Region of Ghana. We find that although policies and actions complement each other, their integration is weak. This is largely due to barriers (financial, institutional, social, and technological) that hinder successful local implementation of some policy actions, as well as a lack of local involvement in policy formulation. Integration of local perspectives into policy needs to be strengthened in order to enhance adaptation. Coupled with this is a need to consider adaptation to climate change in development policies and to pursue efforts to reduce or remove the key barriers to implementation at the local level.