Burger
Journalpaper

Awareness of sea-level response under climate change on the coast of Ghana

Abstract

In response to climate change, coastal communities are expected to experience increasing coastal impacts of sea-level rise (SLR). Strategies formulated and implemented to curb these impacts can thus be more effective if scientific findings on the response to climate change and SLR impacts on coastal communities are taken into consideration and not based merely on the need for coastal protection due to physical coastal erosion. There is also the need to determine the level of awareness of sea-level rise and responses in coastal communities to improve adaptation planning. This study assesses the impact of future erosion on the coastal land cover of Ghana. This assessment estimates approximately 2.66 km2, 2.77 km2, and 3.24 km2 of coastal settlements, 2.10 km2, 2.20 km2 and 2.58 km2 of lagoons, 1.39 km2, 1.46 km2 and 1.71 km2 of wetlands to be at risk of inundation by the year 2050 based on coastal erosion estimates for the 2.6, 4.5 and 8.5 Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) used in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This study also assesses the level of awareness of respondents to SLR on the coast of Ghana and explores the availability and level of integration of scientific knowledge of SLR into coastal adaptation strategies in Ghana. Assessment of the awareness of SLR responses to the changing climate in Ghana is made through semi-structured interviews at national, municipal/district and coastal community scales. Although settlements may be inundated based on the coastal erosion estimates, coastal dwellers interviewed cherish their proximity to the sea and are determined to maintain their occupancy close to the sea as spatial location influences their source of livelihood (fishing). Respondents lack knowledge/understanding of SLR, as the majority of household interviewees attributed the rise or fall in sea level to God. Respondents from Ngiresia alleged that the ongoing coastal sea defence project in their community has led to increased malaria cases.
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