Urban Residents and Communities Responses to Climate Change Impacts in Tamale, Ghana

  • Patrick Brandful Cobbinah
  • Enoch Akwasi KosoeEmail author


Climate change is a global phenomenon, yet its impacts are more localized in vulnerable and poor regions. This chapter finds answers to how urban residents in a Ghanaian city of Tamale have been responding locally to the adverse effects of climate change. Four suburbs were studied using in-depth interviews, and focus group discussions for the data collection. Findings indicate that adaptation practices differ according to individual and household well-being, and largely governed by availability of information and resources. Similarly, reactive and unplanned nature of adaptation strategies used by households have deepened the existing unequal power relations and inequity in the communities.


  1. Abam, T. K. S., Ofoegbu, C. O., Osadebe, C. C., & Gobo, A. E. (2000). Impact of Hydrology on the Port-Harcourt-Patani-Warri Road. Environmental Geology, 40(1/2), 153–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Adger, W. N. (2006). Vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 16(3), 268–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adger, W. N., Huq, S., Mace, M. J., & Paavola, J. (Eds.). (2005). Justice in Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  4. Adger, W. N., Huq, S., Brown, K., Conwaya, D., & Hulmea, M. (2003). Adaptation to Climate Change in the Developing World. Progress in Development Studies, 3(3), 179–195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Adger, W. N., Agrawala, S., Mirza, M., Conde, C., O’Brien, K., Pulhin, J., et al. (2007). Assessment of Adaptation Practices, Options, Constraints and Capacity. In M. Parry, C. Osvaldo, J. Palutikof, P. van der Linden, & H. Hanson (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 (pp. 717–743). Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Agrawal, A. (2009). Local Institutions and Adaptation to Climate Change. In R. Mearns & A. Norton (Eds.), Social Dimensions of Climate Change: Equity and Vulnerability in a Warming World (pp. 173–198). Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  7. Akinnagbe, O. M., & Irohibe, I. J. (2014). Agricultural Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change Impacts in Africa: A Review. Bangladesh Journal of Agricultural Research, 39(3), 407–418.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Alam, M., & Golam Rabbani, M. D. (2007). Vulnerabilities and Responses to Climate Change for Dhaka. Environment and Urbanization, 19(1), 81–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Amadou, M. L., Villamor, G. B., Attua, E. M., & Traoré, S. B. (2015). Comparing Farmers’ Perception of Climate Change and Variability with Historical Climate Data in the Upper East Region of Ghana. Ghana Journal of Geography, 7(1), 47–74.Google Scholar
  10. Banerjee, S, Gerlitz, J. Y., & Hoermann, B. (2011). Remittances: A Key to Adaptation? Perspectives from Communities Exposed to Water Stress in Himalayan Region. Kathmandu: International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.Google Scholar
  11. Bartlett, R., Bharati, L., Pant, D., Hosterman, H., & McCornick, P. (2010). Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Nepal (IWMI Working Paper 139). Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute, 35 pp.
  12. Bhatta, L. D., van Oort, B. E. H., Stork, N. E., & Baral, H. (2015): Ecosystem Services and Livelihoods in a Changing Climate: Understanding Local Adaptations in the Upper Koshi, Nepal. International Journal of Biodiversity Science, Ecosystem Services & Management, 11(2). Scholar
  13. Brechin, S. R. (2003). Comparative Public Opinion and Knowledge on Global Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol: The US Versus the World? International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 23, 106–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Bryan, E., Deressa, T. T., Gbetibouo, G. A., & Ringer, C. (2009). Adaptation to Climate Change in Ethiopia and South Africa: Options and Constraints. Environment: Science and Policy, 12, 413–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chambers, R. (1994). The Origins and Practice of Participatory Rural Appraisal. World Development, 22(7), 953–969.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Cobbinah, P. B., & Anane, G. K. (2016). Climate Change Adaptation in Rural Ghana: Indigenous Perceptions and Strategies. Climate and Development, 8(2), 169–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Cobbinah, P. B., & Darkwah, R. M. (2017). Urban Planning and Politics in Ghana. GeoJournal, 82(6), 1229–1245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cobbinah, P. B., Erdiaw-Kwasie, M. O., & Amoateng, P. (2015). Africa’s Urbanisation: Implications for Sustainable Development. Cities, 47, 62–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Codjoe, F. N. Y., Ocansey, C. K., Boateng, D. O., & Ofori, J. (2013). Climate Change Awareness and Coping Strategies of Cocoa Farmers in Rural Ghana. Journal of Biology, Agriculture and Healthcare, 3(11), 19–30.Google Scholar
  20. Curriero, F., Heiner, K. S., Samet, J., Zeger, S., Strug, L., & Patz, J. A. (2002). Temperature and Mortality in 11 Cities of the Eastern United States. American Journal of Epidemiology, 155, 80–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cutter, S. L., Emrich, C. T., Webb, J. J., & Morath, D. (2009). Social Vulnerability to Climate Variability Hazards: A Review of the Literature. Available at Accessed 4 October 2011.
  22. Cutter, S. L., Solecki, W., Bragado, N., Carmin, J., Fragkias, M., Ruth, M., et al. (2014). Urban Systems, Infrastructure, and Vulnerability. In J. M. Melillo, Terese (T.C.) Richmond, & G. W. Yohe (Eds.), Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment (pp. 282–296). Washington, DC: U.S. Global Change Research Program.
  23. Department for International Development (DFID). (2004). How to Accelerate Pro-poor Growth: A Basic Framework for Policy Analysis (DFID Pro-poor Growth Briefing Note 2). London: DFID.Google Scholar
  24. Downing, T. E. (1992). Climate Change and Vulnerable Places: Global Food Security and Country Studies in Zimbabwe, Kenya, Senegal and Chile (Research Report No. 1). Oxford: Environmental Change Unit, University of Oxford.Google Scholar
  25. Ejembi, E. P., & Alfa, G. B. (2012). Perceptions of Climate Change in Africa: Regional Agricultural Perspectives. Research on Humanities and Social Sciences, 2(5), 1–10.Google Scholar
  26. Gentle, P., Thwaites, R., Race, D., Alexander, K., & Maraseni, T. (2018). Household and Community Responses to Impacts of Climate Change in the Rural Hills of Nepal. Climatic Change, 147(1–2), 267–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). (2012). Ghana 2010 Population and Housing Census: Summary Report of Final Results. Accra, Ghana: GSS.Google Scholar
  28. Ghana Statistical Service (GSS). (2014). Ghana Population and Housing Census 2010: Regional Analytical Report—Northern Region. Accra, Ghana: GSS.Google Scholar
  29. Gunderson, L. H., & Holling, C. S. (2002). Panarchy: Understanding Transformations in Human and Natural Systems. Washington, DC: Island Press.Google Scholar
  30. Harvey, C. A., Rakotobe, Z. L., Rao, N. S., Dave, R., Razafimahatratra, H., Rabarijohn, R. H., et al. (2014). Extreme Vulnerability of Smallholder Farmers to Agricultural Risks and Climate Change in Madagascar. Philosophical Transaction of the Royal Society B, 369, 20130089.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Institute of Development Studies (IDS). (2008). Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation: Closing the Gap. Sussex University.
  32. IPCC. (2007). Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report (Fourth Assessment Report). IPCC. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. IPCC. (2013). Climate Change 2013: The Physical Sciences Basis. IPCC. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Janssen, M. A., Schoon, M. L., Ke, W., & Börner, K. (2006). Scholarly Networks on Resilience, Vulnerability and Adaptation Within the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change. Global Environment Change, 16(3), 240–252.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kelly, P. M., & Adger, W. N. (2000). Theory and Practice in Assessing Vulnerability to Climate Change and Facilitating Adaptation. Climatic Change, 47(4), 325–352.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kiptot, E., & Franzel, S. (2012). Gender and Agroforestry in Africa: A Review of Women’s Participation. Agroforestry System, 84, 35–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kurukulasuriya, P., & Mendelsohn, R. (2006). Crop Selection: Adapting to Climate Change in Africa (Centre for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa [CEEPA] Discussion Paper No. 26). Pretoria: University of Pretoria, 28 pp.Google Scholar
  38. Lei, Y., Finlayson, M., Thwaites, R., & Shi, G. (2013). Migration Drivers in Mountain Regions in the Context of Climate Change: A Case Study in Shangnan County of China. Chinese Journal of Population Resources and Environment, 11(3), 200–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Leiserowitz, A. (2006). Climate Change Risk Perception and Policy Preferences: The Role of Affect, Imagery, and Values. Climatic Change, 77, 45–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Lema, M. A., & Majule, A. E. (2009). Impacts of Climate Change, Variability and Adaptation Strategies on Agriculture in Semi-arid Areas of Tanzania: The Case of Manyoni District in Singida Region, Tanzania. African Journal of Environmental Science and Technology, 3(8), 206–218.Google Scholar
  41. Mertz, O., Mbow, C., Nielsen, J. Ø., Maiga, A., Diallo, D., Reenberg, A., et al. (2010). Climate Factors Play a Limited Role for Past Adaptation Strategies in West Africa. Ecology and Society, 15(4), 25.
  42. Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation [MESTI]. (2011). Ghana’s Second Communication to the UNFCCC. Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Environment Science, Technology and Innovation, Republic of Ghana.Google Scholar
  43. Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation [MESTI]. (2013). Ghana National Climate Change Policy. Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Republic of Ghana.Google Scholar
  44. Moser, S. C., & Dilling, L. (2004). Making Climate Hot. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 46(10), 32–46.Google Scholar
  45. Nelson, D., Adger, N., & Brown, K. (2007). Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Change: Linkages and a New Agenda. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 32, 395–419.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Nelson, R., Kokic, P., Crimp, S., Meinke, H., & Howden, S. M. (2010a). The Vulnerability of Australian Rural Communities to Climate Variability and Change: Part I—Conceptualising and Measuring Vulnerability. Environmental Science & Policy, 13, 8–17.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Nelson, G. C., Rosegrant, W. M., Palazzo, A., Gray, I., Ingersoll, C., Robertson, R., et al. (2010b). Food Security, Farming, and Climate Change to 2050: Scenarios, Results, Policy Options. Washington, DC: International Food Policy Research Institute. Available at Accessed 13 August 2013.
  48. Neville, L., & Mohammed, A. (2010). Ghana Talks Climate: The Public Understanding of Climate Change. London, UK: BBC World Service Trust.Google Scholar
  49. Ngigi, S. N. (2009). Climate Change Adaptation Strategies: Water Resources Management Options for Smallholder Farming Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa. New York: The MDG Centre for East and Southern Africa, The Earth Institute at Columbia University, 189 pp.Google Scholar
  50. Nyong, A., Adesina, F., & Elasha, O. (2007). The Value of Indigenous Knowledge in Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies in the African Sahel. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 12, 787–797.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. O’Brien, K. L., & Leichenko, R. M. (2000). Double Exposure: Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change Within the Context of Economic Globalisation. Global Environmental Change, 10, 221–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. O’Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Nygaard, L. P., & Schjolden, A. (2007). Why Different Interpretations of Vulnerability Matter in Climate Change Discourses. Climate Policy, 7(1), 73–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Patz, J., & Balbus, J. (2003). Global Climate Change and Air Pollution: Interactions and Their Effects on Human Health. In J. Aron & J. Patz (Eds.), Ecosystem Change and Public Health (pp. 379–402). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  54. Race, D., Supriya, M., Matthew, C., & Karl, H. (2016). Understanding Climate Adaptation Investments for Communities Living in Desert Australia: Experiences of Indigenous Communities. Climatic Change, 139, 461–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sarpong, D. B., & Anyidoho, N. A. (2012). Climate Change and Agricultural Policy Processes in Ghana (FAC Working Paper 46). Brighton: Future Agricultures Consortium.Google Scholar
  56. Satterthwaite, D., Huq, S., Pelling, M., Reid, H., & Lankao, P. R. (2008). Adapting to Climate Change in Urban Areas: The Possibilities and Constraints in Low- and Middle-Income Nations. Human Settlements Group and the Climate Change Group at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Available at
  57. Simbarashe, G. (2013). Climate Change, Variability and Sustainable Agriculture in Zimbabwe’s Rural Communities. Russian Journal of Agricultural and Socio-Economic Sciences, 2(14), 89–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Smit, B., & Wandel, J. (2006). Adaptation, Adaptive Capacity and Vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 16(3), 282–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Smit, B., Burton, I., Klein, R. J. T., & Wandel, J. (2000). An Anatomy of Adaptation to Climate Change and Variability. Climatic Change, 45(1), 223–251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Taderera, D. (2010). South African’s Awareness of Climate Change (Briefing Paper 235). Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Parliamentary Liaison Office, South Africa.Google Scholar
  61. Tashakkori, A., & Teddlie, C. (2003). Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social & Behavioral Research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  62. Tompkins, E. L., & Adger, W. N. (2004). Does Adaptive Management of Natural Resources Enhance Resilience to Climate Change? Ecology and Society, 9, 10. Available at http://www.ecologyandsocietyorg/vol9/iss2/art10.
  63. Tripathi, A., & Mishra, A. K. (2017). Knowledge and Passive Adaptation to Climate Change: An Example from Indian Farmers. Climate Risk Management, 16, 195–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. United Nations. (2006). World Urbanization Prospects: The 2005 Revision. United Nations Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, CD-ROM Edition—Data in Digital form (POP/DB/WUP/Rev.2005). New York: United Nations.Google Scholar
  65. UN-Habitat. (2003). The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements 2003. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  66. World Bank. (2011). Migration and Remittances Fact Book 2011. Washington, DC: The World Bank.Google Scholar
  67. Yaro, J. A. (2013). The Perception of and Adaptation to Climate Variability/Change in Ghana by Small-Scale and Commercial Farmers. Regional Environmental Change, 13(6), 1259–1272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Ziervogel, G., Cartwright, A., Tas, A., Adejuwon, J., Zermoglio, F., Shale, M., et al. (2008, March). Climate Change and Adaptation in African Agriculture. Stockholm Environment Institute, 17–19.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick Brandful Cobbinah
    • 1
    • 2
  • Enoch Akwasi Kosoe
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PlanningKwame Nkrumah University of Science and TechnologyKumasiGhana
  2. 2.Institute for Land, Water and SocietyCharles Sturt UniversityAlburyAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Environment and Resource StudiesUniversity for Development StudiesTamaleGhana

Personalised recommendations