Migration and climate change: Four regions under pressure

Key among the push factors of inter-regional migration are unpredictable rainfall patterns, increase in temperature leading to drought and rise in sea level resulting in coastal flooding, linked to climate crises

Preliminary findings of a research study have shown that social amenities, infrastructure and resources in the Greater Accra, Eastern, Ashanti and Central Regions are “under serious pressure” because of migration.

Key among the push factors of inter-regional migration are unpredictable rainfall patterns, increase in temperature leading to drought and rise in sea level resulting in coastal flooding, linked to climate crises.

An assistant programme officer of the Environmental Protection Agency, Esther Mireku, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) at a stakeholders’ meeting that climate change related issues are some of the causes of economic and non-economic losses, hence the movement of inhabitants.

A desk review that includes the analysis of the 2000 and 2021 national population and housing census report supports the findings.

Mireku said “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.”

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.

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.

She said “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.”

A climate specialist at the Office of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Joshua Amponsem, told the GNA that findings of the study are true. He said many more coastal communities are at risk of being submerged in the sea while dry spells in upper regions will increase.

He explained that lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the worst impacts of climate change. This will continue even when the temperature remains at two degrees celsius.

The climate specialist said the findings reflect the issue of loss and damage of a “breakthrough” agreement at the just ended United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. The conference was aimed at providing funding for vulnerable countries that have been hit hard by climate disasters, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Amponsem said “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 described it as the “hard truth” that the developed countries have continued to ignore for many years.

In the interim, he urged city authorities to improve infrastructure and amenities in the cities to accommodate migrants to live decent lives.

Amponsem said “the current system of where development happens before city authorities go in to plan should be changed. There is the need to project the population rise and plan towards that.”

A lecturer at the Department of Urban Design and Infrastructure Studies Planning of the SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development, Eunice Yorgri, urged the government, as a short-term measure, to relocate affected coastal dwellers to enable them to afford a decent life.

She suggested that the government needs to facilitate discussions with affected residents and development partners to identify alternative livelihood programmes to support them.

Yorgri said “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 rain-fed agriculture.”

The lecturer stated that the government should also, as a long-term measure, re-consider continuing the sea defense wall in coastal communities to prevent the loss of more communities to the sea.

She recommended that the government supports rain harvesting technology
to minimise flooding.

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