Social amenities, infrastructure and resources in Accra, Eastern, Ashanti and Central regions are “under serious pressure” due to migration, a preliminary finding of a research study has revealed.
Key among the push factors of inter-regional migration are unpredicted rainfall patterns, increase in temperature leading to drought and sea level rise resulting in coastal flooding, linked to climate crises.
Ms Esther Mireku, Assistant Programme Officer at the Environmental Protection Agency, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at a stakeholders’ meeting that climate change related issues were some of the causes of economic and non-economic losses, hence the movement of inhabitants.
A desk top study that included the analysis of the 2000 and 2021 national population and housing census report supports the findings.
“People are really moving not only from the northern parts of the country that are well known but many from other regions are moving due to unfavourable climate-induced conditions,” she said.
The research titled “Loss and Damage and Climate Induced Human Mobility” is being conducted in partnership with SLYCAN Trust, a non-profit think-tank working on climate change and sustainable development.
Ms Mireku, who is also a youth negotiator on Global Goal on Adaptation, described non-economic losses as unquantifiable but important valuables including loss of indigenous knowledge and resources, as well as the mental health of farmers who lose their livelihoods due to long dry spells.
“The economic losses include crop loss due to unpredicted rainfall, destruction of homes, school structures, factory buildings, hotels and leisure facilities, loss of land, household items, electrical and electronic gadgets caused by flooding,” she said.
Mr Joshua Amponsem, a Climate Specialist at the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth (OSGEY), told the GNA that findings of the study were true and many more communities were going to go under the sea while dry spells in upper regions would increase.
He explained that lives and livelihoods had been ruined by the worst impacts of climate change and would continue even when the temperature remained at two degrees Celsius.
The Climate Specialist said the findings reflected the issue of loss and damage of a “breakthrough” agreement at the just ended United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 aimed at providing funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
“These are issues that the fund should be addressing when modalities are complete to build resilience in the communities. If people and companies lose their assets, belongings and most importantly the unquantifiable ones, they need to be compensated,” he said.
He described it as a ‘hard truth’ that the developed countries continued to ignore for many years.
In the interim, he urged city authorities to improve infrastructure and amenities in the cities to accommodate people who would be migrating to live decent lives.
“The current system of where development happens before city authorities go into plan should be changed. There is the need to project the population rise and plan towards that,” he said.
Dr Eunice Yorgri, a lecturer at the Department of Urban Design and Infrastructure Studies Planning of SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development, urged the Government as a short-term measure to relocate affected coastal dwellers to enable them to afford a decent life.
The Government, she suggested, needed to as part of the short-term measures discuss with affected residents and development partners to identify alternative livelihood programmes to support them.
“As a medium to long term strategy, a substantial investment is needed in rehabilitation and building of more irrigation dams to support second season farming in the northern regions and also shift from the reliance on rainfed agriculture,” she said.
Dr Yorgri stated that the Government should also as a long-term measure, re-consider continuing the sea defense wall in coastal communities so as not to lose more communities to the sea.
She also recommended to the Government to support rain harvesting technology to minimise flooding.