Food Security threatened as drought looms

The Ghana Meteorological Service is warning of droughts that could lead to severe food shortages this year if appropriate steps are not adopted to tackle the threat.

“We are expecting a reduction in the amount of rainfall especially during the major rainy season. We are anticipating that the rains will be erratic and we are going to have long drought spells and the rains will start late and end early”, a meteorologist Felicity Ahafianyo predicts.

She cautions that, this will adversely affect agriculture especially because agriculture in Ghana is largely rain-fed.

According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), 90% of arable agriculture is dependent on rainfall.

This means any reduction in rainfall as is being predicted will have dire consequences for the over 40% percent of Ghanaians involved in the agricultural activities with about 90% of those being small holder farmers.

There has been steady reduction in the contribution of Agriculture to the GDP of Ghana, a development that the drought event may exacerbate.

Meanwhile, a climatologist with the University of Ghana, Dr. Kwadwo Owusu explained, the predicted droughts is as a result of the global weather event known as “El Niño”.

According to Dr. Owusu, “The drought and famine events experienced in 1983 that left many Ghanaians hungry and devastated has been attributed to El Niño events that year.”

He added that “government should have taken this seriously and planned appropriately for it.” Dr. Kwadwo Owusu recommends that Ghana must go all out to put together a multi-sectoral plan to tackle the threat of drought.

He said “one thing we must desist from doing is that, we must not plan for flood just because other countries are planning for floods, we should rather plan for drought and ensure the nation’s food security is not compromised.”

Dr. Owusu further said the country must focus on the climate sensitive sectors of the economy such as agriculture and energy.

Kenya in efforts to tackle the adverse effects of the El Niño events has prepared an “El Niño contingency plan 2014-2015” that is expected to guide the country’s mitigation efforts.

This plan contains various measures to mitigate the effects of the El Niño induced variations to be expected in the weather during the El Niño years.

Ethiopia has been one of the hardest hit by the effects of the El Niño events.  According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), more than 8 million people in Ethiopia now depend on food assistance, up from 4.6 million as of November 2015.

What is an El Niño?

El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

This unusual warming of the surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean alters the circulation of the South West rain-bearing winds that blow over West Africa. This results in the alteration of rainfall patterns.

El Niño and La Niña are considered the ocean part of ENSO, while the Southern Oscillation is its atmospheric changes.

El Niño was recognized by fishers off the coast of Peru as the appearance of unusually warm water.

There is no real record of what indigenous Peruvians called the phenomenon, but Spanish immigrants called it El Niño, meaning “the little boy” in Spanish.

When capitalized, El Niño means the Christ Child, and was used because the phenomenon often arrived around Christmas.

El Niño soon came to describe irregular and intense climate changes rather than just the warming of coastal surface waters.



Source: citifmonline