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What are key adaptation challenges for local residents in Bolgatanga, Ghana?

In this video step, Karsten Schulz introduces you to practical adaptation and governance challenges in the Ghanaian city of Bolgatanga.
People all over the world are already exposed to the adverse impacts of climate change. Climate change can no longer be ignored on any continent or in any region. Scientific evidence tells us that the poorest countries are the hardest hit, particularly in Africa. To show you what this means in reality, we would like to take you on the journey to the West African country of Ghana. This is the city of Bolgatanga. Bolgatanga is located in the Northeastern part of Ghana. Bordered by Burkina Faso to the North and Togo to the East. Bolgatanga or Bolga as the city is often called, is a rather small municipality with approximately 130,000 inhabitants.
African cities like Bolga are still receiving far less attention in comparison to global megacities such as Lagos, Delhi, or Kinshasa. Yet, Africa is projected to have the fastest urban growth rate the world. By 2050, African cities will be home to an additional 950 million people. Much of this growth will occur in small and medium-sized African cities such as Bolgatanga. This means that the focus of urban adaptation has to shift as well. Residents of Bolgatanga experience extreme weather events on a regular basis. For example, drought and flooding. Poverty levels and population growth are relatively high whereas food or nutrition security are often in jeopardy.
You will realise that adaptation challenges for local residents in Bolgatanga can differ considerably from those experienced by populations in the global North. One key reason for this is the economic situation in the region. People do not simply adapt to the adverse effects of climate change. They adapt to a complex variety of challenges, some of which are social or economic in nature. On the one hand, it is evident that recurring extreme events such as urban floods, require local authorities to implement effective disaster risk management strategies. In the case of Bolgatanga, adequate risk management efforts are often hampered by an overall lack of funding equipment and relief items for the National Disaster Management Organisation.
On the other hand, residents face an economic situation that provides them with little to no opportunities for income diversification. Many residents experience serious obstacles to growing their economic activities beyond subsistence level. These groups consequently depend on cheap housing as they are generally poor and have limited access to supportive networks. Cheap housing is often located at the outskirts of the city, especially in flood-prone areas. Moving away is very difficult. For example, due to financial constraints or because of direct family dependencies. Recurring floods and dry spells in the area frequently destroy crops and can lead to food and nutrition insecurity.
The destruction of household assets is another serious challenge as residents often have no savings and no access to credit for post-disaster reconstruction. In the aftermath of a flood event, residents are confronted with disease outbreaks and drinking water shortages. The overall economic situation also makes it difficult for the government to prioritise investments in climate-resilient infrastructure. Existing infrastructures such as drainage canals are often in problematic conditions. Social behaviour may exacerbate these problems. For instance, when household waste clogs drainage canals and worsens the negative effects of flooding events. So far, behavioural change has not been achieved through communication, regulation, or even punitive legal measures.
This means that innovative adaptation actions aimed at fostering behavioural change need to engage with local cultural values and perceptions. We hope that the examples shown in this video will help you better understand the difficult situation of those who are most vulnerable to climate change. The circumstances under which vulnerable groups need to adapt will also be discussed in the following step.

Scientific evidence tells us that the poorest countries are the hardest hit by the adverse impacts of climate change, particularly in Africa. To show you what this means in reality, the following video step takes you on a journey to the West African country of Ghana. In particular, we will look at the adaptation and governance challenges that local residents in the city of Bolgatanga are experiencing as part of their everyday lives. The video will help you to better understand the ground reality of adaptation actions and implementation.

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Sustainable Cities: Governing Urban Adaptation Under Climate Change

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