Spatio-temporal analyses of impacts of multiple climatic hazards in the savannah ecosystem of Ghana

Produced as part of the Managing climate risks and uncertainties and strengthening climate services CCCEP research programme theme

Ghana’s savannah ecosystem has been subjected to a number of climatic hazards of varying severity over the past three decades. This paper presents a spatial, time-series analysis of the impacts of multiple hazards on the ecosystem and human livelihoods, using the Upper East Region of Ghana as a case study. Our aim is to understand the nature of hazards (e.g. their frequency, magnitude, duration etc) and how they ultimately affect humans. Primary data were collected using questionnaires, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews and personal observations. Secondary were collected from documents and reports of various institutions. Calculations of standard precipitation index and crop failure index were made using rainfall data from 4 weather stations (Manga, Binduri, Vea and Navrongo) and crop yield data of 5 major crops (maize, sorghum, millet, rice and groundnuts) respectively. Observed temperatures from the Ghana Meteorological Agency were constantly high and increasing; drought frequency varied from 9 at Binduri to 13 occurrences at Vea; dry spells occurred almost every year. Floods occurred about 6 times on average, with slight variations spatially, from 1988 to 2012, a period with consistent data from all stations. All 5 crops were highly sensitive to all climatic hazards. Destruction to housing, displacement and death of people, and malaria were attributed to floods/heavy rainfall and windstorm events. Cerebro-spinal meningitis, rashes, headaches and drying of waterbodies were attributed to high temperatures, and droughts/dry spells. All impacts varied spatio-temporally and from hazard to hazard. Perennial agricultural losses and high spending on health contribute greatly to persistent poverty. Investing in sustainable irrigation, health and diversification into other economic sectors beyond agriculture could help to tackle the impacts of the hazards whilst also reducing poverty.