I have started dialoging about Climate Change with Sackle Akuete, who is now living in Ghana. This is what she has started to share with me of what it is like where she is in Accra.
RJR: I spent time in the summer researching climate change. I read, from cover to cover, David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth – which I thoroughly recommended as a massive wake up call and eye opener. My dear friend Sackle is living in Ghana and she is experiencing the unpredictable volatility of the weather in Africa first hand. I asked her today if she would join me in a dialogue about it, and for her to share her perspective. Tell me more Sackle. What is life like where you are at the moment?
SA: Hi Rowena, my first-hand experience of the climate crisis is quite extreme. At present we are encountering torrential rain and high winds, which are leading to flash floods. These are followed, within hours, by a beaming sun radiating extreme heat with daytime temperatures of 310C, and 240 C at night. The point is, all these weather systems occur within the course of a day. This leads to horrendous traffic jams, as roads flood and drains spill their overflowing contents of dirty water, discarded rubbish (mainly consisting of plastic bottles, black plastic bags and debris of every kind imaginable) onto the roads.
These traffic jams can have vehicles stationary for hours on end causing more emissions into the environment. This is increasingly followed by disruption in power supplies, impacting food storage – both commercial and domestic. This results in high levels of food waste, as you can imagine not all thawed out food stuffs can be salvaged!
The pendulum then swings the other way with a massive surge in demand for electricity once the power is restored, as people attempt charge all rechargeable appliances and cool down their homes with air conditioning units and electric fans on full blast! This is just the city folk. I can’t begin to tell you what this is doing to those in the rural areas and in particular the farmers.
RJR: It sounds horrific Sackle. And is it worse than last year do you think? And yes please tell me more about what it is like in the rural areas and the farmers.
SA: Most of the farmers in rural areas grow cash crops such as chilli peppers, yams, corn, cassava, tomatoes and cocoa. A great percentage of these farmers are subsistence farmers living from hand to mouth in very harsh circumstances. They live without the aid of advanced technology to forecast and plan for adverse weather conditions. These farmers, in the short term, experience increased flooding, cyclones and droughts that often last longer than in previous decades. Currently they are intensified and far more frequent.
The consequences on them of these extreme weather conditions are water insecurity, loss of biodiversity in the local ecosystem, damage to crops and greatly reduced harvests. This inevitably leads to immense reduction in their income and extremely poor return on all their investment in terms of money and labour. They depend on income from the land to take care of their immediate and extended families. The end result to them is poorer nutrition, healthcare and in many instances, no schooling for their children. This is the human cost of climate change for many famers in the rural areas of the country. It is real…….
RJR: It is real and very tragic Sackle.
Here is a link to images of the floods and chaos in Accra, Ghana