To help mitigate the impact of climate change, the people of Setanga in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region have been planting trees in their community.
With the support of World Vision Ghana, the community members have planted thousands of trees, including economic trees from which they can create jobs for themselves.
The Upper East Region of Ghana experiences some of the worst forms of the impact of climate change every year.
From severe drought in the first quarter of the year to delays in the rains for the planting season, which is usually expected to begin in the second quarter, and then to floods at the end of the third quarter.
Peasant farmers in communities across the region who are classified among the poorest people in the country bear the brunt of this unstable weather pattern.
The farmers of Setanga in the Bawku West district are some of them.
“It would be great to have good weather all the time so that our animals can have pastures to feed on, and our crops will grow well. But this is not the case. When the rains stop, everything dries up, and if you did get a good harvest, you will be faced with hunger”, said Thomas Zebo, a farmer at Setanga.
Humanitarian organisations such as World Vision Ghana are stepping in to help mitigate the impact of climate change on communities like Setanga.
For nearly three years now, World Vision has supported the farmers here to plant trees through the Regreening Africa Project.
The aim; not only to help the community cope with the harsh weather of the dry seasons but also to have some economic trees to fall back on for financial gains.
Samuel Gmalu, who is in charge of Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs at World Vision Ghana, revealed that shea and cashew trees are among the trees selected to be planted because of their economic benefits.
He said the project collaborated with the EU and was also being implemented in 117 other communities in the district.
“We know that one of the impacts of climate change is the drought and the high temperatures and excessive heat. One of the challenges in this area is bush burning”, Gmalu said.
“We are educating the communities and sensitising them to stop the bush fire menace to be able to protect their environment, and this can help them to have fertile soils”, he added.
In addition to educating the farmers on the best ecological practices, World Vision Ghana has supported them with tools and constructed dams to ensure that the trees are watered all year round.
According to Seth Frimpong, a Project Manager for the Regreening Africa Project, a number of the farmers are trained in every community benefiting from the project to ensure sustainability.
“Mainly, every community we go to, we select forty farmers. Twenty are trained as lead farmers and [the other] twenty are trained as fire volunteers, and we make sure we have an equal number of women and men on the project”, Frimpong said.
He added that the training is done in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
“They have agric extension agents who have been trained in these technologies, and they come to the community to train the farmers with us”, he said.
The people of Setanga say they have begun to see the benefits of planting trees.
“We can produce oil from the seeds of shea trees; our animals can be fed with the leaves from some of the trees, and our community will have a lot of shade and fresh air because of the trees. That is why we are taking the tree planting very seriously”, Amamata Salifu, a woman farmer at Setanga, said.
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