Dr Enoch Bessah

Dr Enoch Bessah

Ghana

Future Africa

FAR-LeaF Program

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Work and Research

Climate change impact, vulnerability & adaptation assessment, and modeling; Ecosystem services; Water resource assessment and modeling; Land-use change assessment and modeling

Fields Of Expertise

Climate change impact, vulnerability and adaptation
Food security
Soil and Water Engineering

INTEGRATING SCIENTIFIC AND INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

The Pra River Basin is the major producer of cacao, the most valued economic crop in the country; the leading producer of cassava, the second food security crop in Ghana; and one of the top three areas in the country producing the first food security crop – maize.

 

Crop failures in Ghana are caused by erratic rainfall patterns due to climate change. This led to a yield reduction and food insecurity in the region. Most vulnerable to this variability and climate are the smallholder farmers who do not have access to weather forecasts.

 

Earlier research in the basin predicted that rainfall could be reduced by almost 1,8% between 2020 and 2049 with a shift from a bi-modal to a mono-modal pattern of rainfall starting late in March and ending in November. The mean temperature was projected to increase by just over 1,5% in the same period. These projected changes could reduce surface water yield in the range of 2-16mm with both flood and drought consequences in the basin.

 

Farmers are informed about climate change through personal observations and radio broadcasts. They are adapting by changing planting dates, but only about 30% have access to weather information, mainly through radio broadcasts and which have not proven to be reliable over the years. Most farmers in the Pra River Basin rely on their indigenous skills in predicting weather conditions for their farm-level decisions.

 

Dr Enoch Bessah’s FAR-Leaf research project is titled Co-production of integrated indigenous and scientific weather and seasonal climate forecast for climate change adaptation in the Pra River Basin of Ghana.

 

His research will investigate and improve climate services in the Pra River Basin through coproduction by integrating scientific and indigenous forecasts for farm-level decision-making; specifically, by identifying specific weather and seasonal climate information needs of farmers; by assessing the skill of seasonal climate forecast models currently available in meeting the farmers’ needs; by determining the performance of indigenous and scientific forecasts in the study area; and by assessing the influence of weather and climate information on farm-level decision making.

 

He describes the importance of scientific research to inform on how indigenous knowledge is engaged in water management and food production in the basin. Including the role in improving scientific weather and seasonal climate forecasts for a reliable and acceptable climate information service in the area. Assessing indigenous forecast potential and co-producing reliable climate information at the farm level would strengthen the partnership between farmers – the end-users – and the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMet) to expand the availability of weather information services.

The results of the study will serve as an important building block to formulate strategic ways to improve climate services in Ghana and in doing so potentially help alleviate food insecurity while increasing farmers’ economic status. The use of citizen science to collect and handle indigenous forecasts and observed rainfall will provide insights that can be used for future engagement for citizens in the field of meteorology and atmospheric science. It will create a second-generation climate information service for the Pra River Basin and therefore identify the specific climate information needs for climate-smart agriculture.