18 Nov

Geographical Review Preview: Local Differentiation and Adapting to Climate Change in Coastal Ghana

By: Victor Owusu and Edo Andriesse

What is the main purpose of your study? To investigate how climate change is affecting the men and women who are engaged in small-scale coastal fishing and its related activities.

What are the practical, day to day, implications of your study? We advocate for more efforts aimed at multi-scalar marine planning. There is not only a need to better coordinate local challenges with national level priorities and agendas, but also – as the transnational nature of fishing reveals – marine planning should occur at international level. It is important to consult more with local coastal community leaders when building infrastructures such as sea defense walls and landing beaches.

Figure 1. Bagged sand deposited at the shoreline of Shama Apo to reduce erosion.

Figure 2. Properties being washed away by coastal erosion at Shama Apo.

How does your study relate to other work on the subject? Our study does not only investigate place-based processes of local challenges, but also pays significant attention to the mobility of coastal, rural households in response to climate change threats.

What are two or three interesting findings that come from your study? The natural capital of coastal communities and fishing households are currently under severe threat of global environmental change. In various communities local protective barriers have been constructed by residents in response to coastal erosion and flooding. The increased practice of transnational fishing (in Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Togo, and Benin) indicate that Ghanaian fisherfolk have the knowledge and ability to change and engage in processes of translocal development

Figure 3. Landing beach, Dixcove, with heaps of rubbish and sand dumped to protect the beach from erosion

Figure 4. Docked canoes in Dixcove.

What might be some of the theoretical implications of this study? An integration of political ecology and translocal development analyses can be used in future studies to investigate issues of power, discourses, marginalization, and household mobilities related to climate change impacts and adaptation.

How does your research help us think about Geography? People’s relationships with their environment keep on evolving. The increasing mobility of rural households means that traditional village-based analyses of livelihoods are in danger of becoming too static. In most parts of the Global South, many households seek to make ends meet and achieve higher standards of living in and outside the village. Temporary and permanent migration of household members are frequent phenomena. Also, the digital revolution means that households use mobile phones to communicate with people and organizations outside the village and when connected to internet, can obtain information, lobby, and do business. The organization of economic activities therefore transcends the immediate home environment of the residents.

Figure 5. New Takoradi fishing community

Figure 6. Section of the sea defense wall in New Takoradi.

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