The central goal of the Paris Agreement is to keep the average global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and as close as possible to 1.5 degrees. About one degree of that rise has already happened, underlining the urgency to progress much further and faster with the global clean energy transformation. Off course, this is also tired to the success of the 2030 Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal 9: to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation. To pursue this inclusively, the global south will need to actively involve its informal economy as well as add value to some of its primary products.
“Happy World Wetlands Day to everyone who works to protect global wetlands” – From Our Founder, Joshua Amponsem.
Wetlands are the link between land and water, and are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. Some common names for different types of wetlands are swamp, marsh and bog. To be called a wetland, an area must be filled or soaked with water at least part of the year.
As wetlands are continuously threatened by human activities, this is a day to spread awareness on the importance of wetlands and call on more people to join hands in protecting wetlands.
In Ghana, we are loosing our wetlands (especially, Mangrove wetlands) at an alarming rate despite the many projects carried out by conservation groups. During 2015 World Environmental Day, I coordinated the Ghana Youth Climate Coalition to join a tree planting exercise at the Muni-Pomadze Ramsar site in Winneba – which is globally known for wetland Turtle conservation. It was sad to see plastics all around a ramsar site which accommodates over 13o species of organisms. In other places across the country, mangroves at some wetlands are being harvested for fish smoking. Interaction with fishmongers reveals that smoking fish with the mangrove gives the fish a better taste. This act has led to the loss of mangrove vegetation in the Central Region, and parts of the Volta Region.
At the Kakum estuary in Cape Coast, which is surround by a mangrove wetland, it is heartbreaking to witness the frequency and speed at which people are encroaching the wetlands. People are erecting buildings so close to the wetlands and some sitting right on the wetlands. This has contributed to a chronic flooding events within some parts of the Cape Coast metropolis. The Kakum estuary alone contains over eighteen species belonging to 18 genera and 12 families of marine, brackish water and freshwater fishes. If the wetland surrounding the estuary is threatened so is the estuary. Additionally, as a very sensitive ecosystem, it is disturbing to find people practicing open defecation and throwing refuse (mainly plastics) in an around the wetland.
Why protect Wetlands?
- Wetlands function like a sponge, soaking up water that comes in with the tides, or from periodically flooding rivers. In fact, they control floods much more effectively and efficiently than any flood wall.
- Wetlands are Carbon Sink. Because the soils found in wetlands can store carbon for hundreds of years, they play an important role in fighting climate change.
- Aids in Sea Level Rise Mitigation. As global warming increases and sea levels rise, wetlands are the first barrier to protecting people living closer the sea and within flood zone area.
- Recreation and Tourism. Spanning from bird watching, biking, hiking, and kayaking, wetlands provide people with many ways to enjoy nature. In Ghana, we receive migratory birds at our estuaries and wetlands – this is something the Ghana Tourism Authority needs to look at.
- Wildlife Nursery. Because of its unique location between water and land, salt and freshwater, wetlands shelter a wide range of vulnerable species while serving as a breeding site for many organisms. Without wetlands, a huge number of songbirds, waterfowl, shellfish, and other mammals just wouldn’t exist.
- Fertile Farm Land. The staple diet of half the world’s population is rice, which grows in wetlands in many parts of the world.
There are many more benefits of wetland that cannot be mentioned. The frequent flood events in most coastal cities in Ghana can be attributed to destruction of wetlands. As we celebrate Wetlands today, I call on all global citizens to advocate for the protection of wetlands.
The World Climate simulation event gives people a taste of what it is like to be a negotiator at the UN climate change negotiations. World Climate was developed by Climate Interactive, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML) Climate change Initiative. In view of this, an event was organized by the Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) with support from Climate Interactive and the University of Mohammed VI Polytechnic in Morocco at the Kumasi Hive, Kentinkrono-Kumasi.
Over 60 people registered to attend the event while 40 people made it to the event excluding facilitators and organizers. The event was attended by environmental enthusiasts, civil society groups, public servants working in the field if environment, and mostly young environmental graduates. The event lasted for four hours and was coordinated by Joshua Amponsem (GAYO), and Benson Adjei (CSI).
Our event kick-started at around 10:30 GMT and Audra Tufuor simulated as IPCC scientist to give a brief presentation on climate change, after which co-facilitator, Benson Adjei, introduced World Climate to the participants. Joshua Amponsem introduced the formal section and divided the organizations into their 6 bloc groups – U.S.A, EU, China, India, Other Developed Countries, and Other Developing Countries. Additionally, people played the role of the press and also delegates to represent Climate Activist groups. Joshua launched the first round of negotiations and delegates commenced the 1st round of negotiations.
Prior to the commencement of the first round, Ms. Ivy Gyimah (Head of Research, GAYO) played the role of Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and gave a wonderful opening speech which really formalized the opening of the simulation event. Following her speech, Joshua Amponsem also gave a short speech as the UN Secretary General.
After about 10 minutes, the first round came to an end. We launched C-ROADS to reflect delegate’s commitments but delegate’s commitment did not meet our 2degC target – however, we had a financial commitment of over $150b with much coming from U.S.
Following that, we opened the second round of negotiations. During the second round, participants felt much more involved with their role. EU proved to be very difficult in agreeing to funds rather than the US.
The representatives from the developing countries seemed too timid and out of the game – they had poor negotiation skills. China seemed to be more responsible and wanted to negotiate with the US in terms of fund and carbon reduction. The other developed countries had no trouble at all with negotiations – their commitments were just right. India had great ideas and spent so much time talking to EU for funding and collaborative investments towards green technology – which was okay.
At the end of the two sections, the nation’s decisions were fed into C-ROADS software to calculate if the goal of groups to limit global warming to “well below 2˚C” compared to preindustrial levels was met. The results from the computer showed the nations have only limited global warming to 2.3˚C which means more intensive actions have to take place to reach the 2˚C goal. China and the US made changes to enable us meet our 2deg C target.
After the World Climate simulation, room was made for contributions and comments. A number of contributions and comments were made by the participants;
- Climate change is least talked about on the news.
- We have to organize climate change awareness programs.
- We have to bring out a lot of climate change innovations.
- Many participants pledged to expand knowledge on climate change.
- About 5 participants were interested to organize a World Climate Event
In conclusion, the program was successful and was impressed by the participation of the youth-led organizations with their presence, contributions and comments to the event. It was an opportunity for young people to play such active role as country leaders and also having given them the opportunity to learn more on climate change.
The next World Climate Simulation events will be organized by GAYO in Cape Coast, Sunyani, and Takoradi.
The Government of Ghana is expected to solve the country’s energy crisis through the construction of a 2x350MW supercritical coal fired power plant in Ekumfi Aboano in the Central Region of Ghana.
The project, which was initially scheduled to commence in August 2016 has been postponed to April 2017. The first phase of the project will see the import of 2 million tons per year of coal from South Africa and Colombia, and the construction of an administration block, offices, networks, turbines and a coal handling bay. According to Volta River Authority, the second phase of the project will generate 1,300MW of power and finally about 2,00MW of power to be generated during the final stages of the project.
The concept of supercritical coal power plants is basically to eliminate pollution from power plants and ensure air quality. However, there are severe environmental concerns on behalf of citizens since the concept of ‘supercritical coal power’ or ‘clean coal technology’ is very expensive and difficult to be practiced. With a current investment of $1.5bn, many energy access practitioners are having doubts on the utilization of funds to reduce externalities and ensure proper environmental and social performance.
The VRA has been very transparent in incorporating the concerns of the general public into the project development. VRA invited a number of advocacy groups to explain the concept of supercritical coal power plant and also to enhance public acceptance of the project. At the meeting, VRA confirmed that they cannot ensure zero pollution, however, they will do their best to reduce pollution to the very minimal. Despite the promise, the ‘#NoCoal2Ghana’ campaign being led by the Ghana Youth Environmental Movement, Green Africa Youth Organization and the Ghana Youth Climate Coalition, is continuously growing over the social media and threatening the prevalence of the commencement of the project.
According to VRA, it has become necessary to invest in coal power primary to meet the country‘s increasing demands (7% Growth – GRIDCo) resulting in energy demand of 47,342 GWh by 2030 and a peak load of 7000MW. It also seeks to improve supply reliability with a base load plant, matured and proven in technology to provide electricity with unrestricted fuel.
The supercritical coal power plant is a joint venture between the Volta River Authority (VRA) and Shenzhen Energy Group of China and estimated to cost $US1.5bn – funded by the China African Development Fund.
Ansah Boatemaa is an environmental activist in Cape Coast, Ghana. She is the Programs Manager for Green Africa Youth Organization in Ghana and a teaching assistant at the University of Cape Coast. She is passionate about food security and climate change. Agricultural waste management and climate smart agriculture – aiming at combating climate change through sustainable agricultural methods, are my research interests.
Together with the entire Green Africa Youth Organization, we came up with this project which focuses on introducing insect (Rhynchophorus spp) farming in Ghana and envisions a cheap, readily available nutritious source of food for local impoverished communities.
Palm weevils, Rhynchophorus spp, are excellent low cost sources of essential nutrients. They have low carbon footprint if farmed as a commercial enterprise. In Ghana, Palm weevils serve as a traditional meal for natives of most rural societies (especially within the southern sector) but are not farmed for consumption. Palm weevil farming is a cost-effective enterprise in terms of supplies and labour. The larvae reaches maturity within three to four months and can be harvested for consumption – very rich in protein.
The project will partner with the Department of Wildlife and Entomology of the University of Cape Coast to provide students and researchers insight on insect farming for human consumption in Ghana. Also, Traditional Leaders, Local Government Representatives of Communities, Local Trade Union, Palm Farmers and Palm Wine Tappers within the community will be integrated as stakeholders to ensure project sustainability and effectiveness.
Palm trunks, which are regarded as agricultural waste, will be used for farming to provide larvae stage of the Rhynchophorus spp (consumable) with a natural habitat. The trunks will be cut into logs. The logs will be fed with fermented palm mash, upon which adult palm weevils will be introduced to mate and produce eggs. Feeding activity and entire life cycle of the immature stages (eggs, pupae and larvae) are harboured in the palm trunk. After about 4 months, the first lop of weevils will be ready for harvesting.
Prior to the first harvest of the farm, the entomology department will give scientific insight, and ensure the ecological health and quality of the habitat to be provided for the palm weevils. As a delicacy, unemployed youth will be trained on how to prepare palm weevil larvae as food for trade. This will be done through a workshop for community members. The project is long term and very sustainable. Income generated from harvest will be used to further the project and scale up in other rural communities. Eventually, it is expected that the project reaches all rural areas – providing affordable food and alternative livelihood.
The farming technique is cost effective and environmental friendly as it utilize agricultural waste as a resource and enhance food security. Moreover, the mash used in rearing the larvae is rich in nutrients and will be sold as compost for crop farmers in amending infertile soils. Also, after six months, the hollowed palm logs used for rearing and have been burrowed by the larvae will be utilized as containers for gardening and growing ornamental plants.
This project was developed and inspired to combat chronic malnutrition in rural areas within the Ashanti and Central Regions of Ghana. There is no interest by farmers to farm palm weevils due to lack of skills and technical knowhow. The project will provide skills and knowledge of Palm weevil farming and trading to communities and create alternative livelihood for dwellers.
The project’s success will be measured by: the availability of affordable nutritious food (palm weevils) to rural communities, number of youth engaged in palm weevil farming and trade as alternative livelihood, income generated from first harvest of the farm which will also indicate the number of consumers. Additionally, impact measurement will also include the number of crop farmers interested in purchasing the nutrient-rich compost for farming following eventual usage of palm trunk as habitat for palm weevil larvae.
The project is currently seeking partners, sponsors and technical support. We will be glad to have you on board. Contact Us.
Written by: Ansah Boatemaa.
Waste management is becoming one of the critical issues in Ghana in recent years. Despite the environmental and sanitation policies, waste is currently a public menace in all cities and in Ghana. Following recent incidents in Ghana, such as the cholera outbreak which claimed over 100 lives and the June 6th disaster which claimed about 150 lives – one of the most highly recognized environmental disasters in Ghana, waste management can clearly be noticed as a public hazard which needs immediate attention.
As a green organization, we have identified plastic usage as one of the major contributors to the waste menace in Cape Coast community. Not only does it cause pollution in communities, fishermen has periodically withdrawn their nets from the sea discovering plastics in the gills and other sensitive parts of fishes – indicating the plastic pollution in our inter tidal zones.
Green Africa Youth Organization has therefore developed the “SAY NO TO PLASTICS” CAMPAIGN to educate households along the cape coast – Elmina coastline about the harmful effect of plastics on the environment: The number of years they take to decompose; Nuisance they cause; Contribution to flooding and thus, suggest alternatives to be used in place of plastics such as: using baskets or jute bags (that can be reused) to the market instead of the polythene bags or using paper to wrap dry items bought in nearby stores in the community.
Our campaign comes in the form of a health walk, where campaigners (volunteers) will walk through the communities while educating community members and interacting with them on environmental safety. Printed leaflets with tips on how to reuse domestic items will be distributed to each household to serve as a guide to minimize waste generation in the community.
This project is organized by Green Africa Youth Organization.
Partners: A Rocha UCC, Ghana Youth Climate Coalition and Environmental and Fisheries Student’s Associations of the University of Cape coast.
Kindly contact the campaign coordinators for any enquiry Mrs. Rhoda Tetteh (+233543754204) and Ms. Ansah Boatemaa (+233241494193).