A Regional Researcher with International Water Management Institute, IWMI Dr. Charity Osei Amponsah has stated that current policies on climate change, gender and migration in Ghana do not adequately address social transformation.
Therefore, existing strategies and plans have not been effective, particularly in building climate resilience and mitigating migration from the northern to southern part of the country.
In view of this, the European Union is implementing a six-year project in the Upper West and Savannah regions known as Resilience Against Climate Change; Social Transformation Research, REACH-STR with 2,323,340 Euros.
It aims among others at generating knowledge on the social transformation conditions that promote sustainable and inclusive rural development and adoption of climate change adaptation and mitigation practices.
Dr. Charity Osei-Amponsah in an interview with Joyce Gyekye about the project made reference to a preliminary study in the Upper West region which indicated that migration from that part of the country to the south is not all negative as being portrayed.
She said “the migrants send back home new technologies in terms of agricultural practices which they also introduce into the community for others to emulate. The migrants upon their return home also introduce new ways of doing things including construction of modern houses.
On social transformation, she said some social intervention programs are not being utilized after the end of such projects. She cited a solar-powered water project in Naaha in the Wa Municipality which is not being utilized because the solar-powered pipe pumps water in the afternoon when most of them are at work or on their farms.
Upon their return in the evening, they cannot get water because the sun is down and the battery cannot store energy to be used at that time. She noted that such a laudable project is therefore not transforming the lives of the community. It is upon this that the project has social transformation research to find out if such interventions are impacting the lives of communities.
Dr Osei-Amponsah who is also the Project Coordinator of the REACH-STR project entreated researchers to use social transformation indicators while undertaking their research works. This way, she noted, social Interventions being deployed can be assessed to find out if they are transforming the lives of communities. She said the project is sponsoring 19 students who are pursuing their masters and PhDs programs to frame and think about social transformation and how they can do research around it.
Mrs. Osei-Amponsah was optimistic that the students upon completion of their courses would incorporate the knowledge into policies, strategies and development plans that would be developed in their workplaces.
”If we don’t focus on how society changes and we formulate development plans and policy strategies that are looking at linear and static issues, we might not be capturing the important things in society and those plans may not be as socially inclusive as they should be.
”The REACH project has three result components and the Social Transformation Research and Policy Advocacy, STR study is the third component. Social transformation means structural change in the economic and social relations that surround individuals, households and communities. It could be evident in the extent of migration, gender, youth dynamics and the overall resilience of communities.
Partners of Reach-Streach-STR is being implemented by the IWMI in collaboration with the Centre of Migration Studies at the University of Ghana, the University of Development Studies and CSIR’s- Science.