Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 753–765 | Cite as

Climate change/variability and food systems: evidence from the Afram Plains, Ghana

  • Samuel Nii Ardey CodjoeEmail author
  • George Owusu
Original Article


While there are many studies of the impacts of climate change and variability on food production, few studies are devoted to a comprehensive assessment of impacts on food systems. Results of a survey of food systems and household adaptation strategies in three communities in the Afram Plains, Ghana, reveal how extreme climatic events affect rural food production, transportation, processing and storage. Adaptation strategies implemented by the three communities during past droughts serve as a foundation for planning responses to future climate change. Results of this study suggest that food security in this region—where droughts and floods are expected to become more severe due to climate change—could be enhanced by increasing farm-based storage facilities; improving the transportation system, especially feeder roads that link food production areas and major markets; providing farmers with early warning systems; extending credit to farmers; and the use of supplementary irrigation. This study also indicates that some cultural practices, particularly those that prohibit the consumption of certain foods, may reduce the resilience of some individuals and ethnic groups to food system disruptions. Understanding the local context and the responses of households is critical to the development of effective strategies for reducing the potential adverse impacts of climatic change on food security in rural Ghana.


Climate change Climate variability Food systems Vulnerability Adaptation Ghana 



We are grateful to the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) for providing funds for the Food Security and Adaptation to Climate Change in the Afram Plains Project (# CCP 07 08). Further support from the Climate Change and Learning Observatory Network in Ghana Project (EEM-A-00-66-00014) sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development is also acknowledged. We are also grateful to Petra Tschakert of the Penn State University, Regina Sagoe, Lucy Atidoh, Gifty Ofori-Darko, and Kirk Anderson, of the Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana for assisting with data collection. We also want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the anonymous reviewers, Dr. Virginia Burkett of the United States Geological Survey, and the Editor-in-Chief for their useful and constructive suggestions, which has greatly enhanced the quality of this paper.


  1. Amthor JS (2001) Effects of atmospheric CO2 concentration on wheat yield. Field Crops Res 73:1–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boko M, Niang I, Nyong A, Vogel C, Githeko A, Medany M, Osman-Elasha B, Tabo R, Yanda P (2007) Africa. In: Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 433–467Google Scholar
  3. Bradshaw B, Dolan H, Smith B (2002) Farm-level adaptation to climatic variability and change: crop diversification in the Canadian prairies. Clim Change 67:119–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chambers R (1989) Vulnerability, coping and policies. Inst Dev Stud (IDS) Bull 1:1–7Google Scholar
  5. Chambers R, Conway G (1992) Sustainable rural livelihoods: practical concepts for the 21st century. IDS Discussion Paper 296, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, UKGoogle Scholar
  6. Christensen JH, Hewitson B, Busuioc A, Chen A, Gao X, Held I, Jones R, Koli RK, Kwon W-T, Laprise R, Rueda VM, Mearns L, Menendez CG, Raisanen J, Rinke A, Sarr A, Wheton P (2007) Regional climate projections. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: the physical science basis. Contribution of working group I to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 847–940Google Scholar
  7. Clover J (2003) Food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Afr Secur Rev 12:1–11Google Scholar
  8. Codjoe SNA (2007) Supply and utilisation of food crops in Ghana, 1960–2010. Afr J Food Agric Nutr Dev 7(2):1–15Google Scholar
  9. Codjoe SNA (2010) Population and agricultural land use in the Afram Plains of Ghana. In: Codjoe SNA (ed) Population-environment Nexus in Ghana: a case study of Afram Plains. Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrucken, pp 72–93Google Scholar
  10. Davies S (1996) Adaptable livelihoods: coping with food insecurity in the Malian Sahel. MacMillan Press Ltd, LondonGoogle Scholar
  11. Devereux S, Edwards J (2004) Climate change and food security. In: Yamin F, Kenbar M (eds) Climate change and development. IDS Bulletin 35, pp 22–30Google Scholar
  12. Devereux S, Maxwell S (eds) (2001) Food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Intermediate Technology Development Group Publishing, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. Dietrich KA (2010) Managing water resources under climate variability and change: perspectives of communities in the Afram Plains, Ghana. In: Codjoe SNA (ed) Population-environment nexus in Ghana: a case study of Afram Plains. Lambert Academic Publishing, Saarbrucken, pp 135–163Google Scholar
  14. Dilley M, Boudreau TE (2001) Coming to terms with vulnerability: a critique of the food security definition. Food Policy 26:229–247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Doka M, Monimart M (2004) The De-feminisation of Agriculture in Southern Niger. (Issue Paper No. 128). International Institute for Environment and Development, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Downing TE (2002) Linking sustainable livelihoods and global climate change in vulnerable food systems. Die Erde 133:363–378Google Scholar
  17. Environmental Protection Agency (2001) National communication for the Republic of Ghana. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, May 2nd (submitted)Google Scholar
  18. Ericksen PJ (2008) Conceptualising food systems for global environmental change research. Global Environ Change 18(1):234–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Food and Agriculture Organisation (1996) Report of the world food summit. RomeGoogle Scholar
  20. Food and Agriculture Organisation (2004) State of food insecurity in the world. RomeGoogle Scholar
  21. Food and Agriculture Organisation (2005) Fisheries and aquaculture topics. The sustainable livelihoods approach. Topics fact sheets. Text by Benoit Horemans. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. [Cited 27 January 2011].
  22. Food and Agriculture Organisation (2007) Climate change and food security: a framework for action. FAO Interdepartmental Working Group on Climate Change. RomeGoogle Scholar
  23. Food and Agriculture Organisation (2010) Climate change implications for food security and natural resources management in Africa. Twenty-sixth regional conference for Africa [on-line], Rome [Cited 3 February 2011].
  24. Freudenberger-Schoonmaker K (1995) The historical matrix: breaking away from static analysis. For Trees People Newsl 26(27):78–79Google Scholar
  25. Fuhrer J (2003) Agro-ecosystem responses to combinations of elevated CO2, ozone and global climate change. Agric Ecosyst Environ 97:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Gregory PJ et al (1999) Managed production systems. In: Walker B, Steffen W, Canadell J, Ingram JSI (eds) The terrestrial biosphere and global change: implications for natural and managed systems. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 229–270Google Scholar
  27. Hulme M, Doherty R, Ngara T, New M, Lister D (2001) African climate change: 1900–2100. Clim Res 17:145–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Ingram JSI, Gregory PJ, Brklacich M (eds) (2005) GECAFS science plan and implementation strategy. ESSP report, Wallingford, vol. 2Google Scholar
  29. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2001) Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. IPCC Working group II, Third Assessment Report. McCarthy JJ, Canziani OF, Leary NA, Dokken DJ, White KS (eds) Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  30. Jones PG, Thornton PK (2003) The potential impacts of climate change on maize production in Africa and Latin America in 2055. Global Environ Change 13:51–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kunstmann H, Jung G (2005) Impact of regional climate change on water availability in the Volta Basin of West Africa. Regional hydrological impacts of climate variability and change. Proceedings of symposium S6 for the seventh IAHS scientific assembly. Foz de Iguacu, Brazil, April 2005Google Scholar
  32. Kurukulasuriya P, Mendelsohn R (2006) A Ricardian analysis of the impact of climate change on African crop land. CEEPA Discussion Paper No. 8. Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa. University of Pretoria, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  33. Kurukulasuriya P, Rosenthal S (2003) Climate change and agriculture: a review of impacts and adaptations. Climate Change Series 91. Environment Department Papers, World Bank, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  34. Kurukulasuriya P et al (2006) Will African agriculture survive climate change? World Bank Econ Rev 20(3):367–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Latham M (1997) Human nutrition in the developing world. Food and Agriculture Organisation Food and Nutrition Series No. 29, RomeGoogle Scholar
  36. Leary N, Adejuwon J, Barros V, Burton I, Kulkarni J, Lasco R (eds) (2007) Climate change and adaptation. Earthscan Publications, SterlingGoogle Scholar
  37. Maddison D (2006) The perception of and adaptation to climate change in Africa. CEEPA Discussion Paper No. 10. Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa. University of Pretoria, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  38. Nakicenovic N, et al. (2000) Special Report on Emissions Scenarios: A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 599 pp. Available online at:
  39. Nhemachena C, Hassan R (2007) Micro-level analysis of farmers’ adaptation to climate change in Southern Africa. IFPRI Discussion Paper No. 00714. International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  40. Njuki JM, Kihiyo VBM, O’ktingati A, Place F (2004) Male and female labour in an agroforestry system in the central highlands of Kenya: correcting the misconception. Int J Agric Resour Gov Ecol 3(1–2):154–170Google Scholar
  41. Nyanteng VK, Dapaah S (1993) Agricultural development. In: Nyanteng VK (ed) Policies and options for Ghanaian economic development. Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research, University of Ghana, LegonGoogle Scholar
  42. O’Laughlin B (1999) In defence of the household: Marx, gender and the utilitarian impasse. Institute of Social Studies, Working Paper Series No. 289. The HagueGoogle Scholar
  43. Pearce D, Cline W, Achanta A, Frankhauser S, Pachauri R, Tol R, Vellinga P (1996) The social costs of change: greenhouse damage and benefits of control. In: Bruce J, Lee H, Haites E (eds) Climate change 1995: economic and social dimensions of climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  44. Pinstrup-Andersen P, Pandhya-Lorch R, Rosengrant MW (1999) World food prospects: critical issues for the early 21st Century. 2020 vision food policy report. International Food Policy Research Institute, WashingtonGoogle Scholar
  45. Rakodi C (2002) A livelihoods approach: conceptual issues and definitions. In: Rakodi C, Lloyd JT (eds) A people-centred approach to reducing poverty. Earthscan, London, pp 3–22Google Scholar
  46. Rosenzweig C, Parry M (1994) Potential impact of climate change on world food supply. Nature 367(6459):133–138CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sarpong DB, Agyire I and Obeng Ofori D (2008) Harvest and post-harvest baseline study. Prepared for the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana. Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness, University of GhanaGoogle Scholar
  48. Stephen L, Downing TE (2001) Getting the scale right: a comparison of analytical methods for vulnerability assessment and household-level targeting. Disasters 25(2):113–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1994) 21 MarchGoogle Scholar
  50. Tschakert P, Sagoe R, Ofori-Darko G, Codjoe SN (2010) Floods in the Sahel: an analysis of anomalies, memory and anticipatory learning. Climatic Change. doi: 10.1007/s10584-009-9776-y
  51. United States Agency for International Development (1992) Policy Determination: Definition of Food Security, PD-19. USAID, Washington, DC, 4 ppGoogle Scholar
  52. Vogel C, Smith J (2002) The politics of scarcity: conceptualising the current food security crisis in southern Africa. S Afr J Sci 98:315–317Google Scholar
  53. Yaro JA (2004) Theorizing food insecurity: building a livelihood vulnerability framework for researching food insecurity. Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift–Norwegian J Geogr 58:23–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ziervogel G, Calder R (2003) Climate variability and rural livelihoods: assessing the impact of seasonal climate forecasts. Area 35:403–417CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Regional Institute for Population StudiesUniversity of GhanaLegonGhana
  2. 2.Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic ResearchUniversity of GhanaLegonGhana

Personalised recommendations