Incremental climate change adaptation policies in rural Africa often focus on agriculture, agro-technology, and the management of natural resources, while larger trajectories of rural transformation seem to be ignored. To address this gap, I conducted multi-local qualitative and quantitative research in Northern Ghana to explore—beyond the visions provided by planned adaptation and development programs—changes in rural aspirations and future-oriented strategies which rural people, particularly the youth, pursue. Furthermore, the extent to which these changes indeed contribute to better individual social mobility, rural transformation and enhanced adaptation has been studied. Research results show that most young people have future aspirations that go beyond the agricultural sector. Families invest considerable time and finances in formal education, hoping that the next generation will be able to move ahead into ‘modern’ careers. But the rural educational system fails to deliver quality, successful students often lack the funds to continue their education, and rural and national job markets do not provide the necessary employment for large numbers of graduates. Unable to achieve their aspirations, large numbers of frustrated and vulnerable semi-educated young people engage in piecemeal livelihood strategies, moving between rural and urban and agricultural and modern sectors. It seems high time that climate change adaptation policies and investments for rural Africa moved beyond incremental agricultural climate change adaptation to address the need for larger transformation by seriously investing in rural education and alternative youth employment strategies—climate proofing not only farms but also people.
- Climate change adaptation
- Rural transformation
- Individual aspirations
- Youth employment
- West Africa
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Youth’, especially in the African context, is not a straightforward concept and it is difficult to define clear age brackets (Abbink and Van Kessel 2005, p. 6). Local definitions may vary between different contexts, e.g., the social and political domain, and in relation to different groups of people, e.g., along gender lines. In northern Ghana, for instance, members of youth associations, mainly active in the political domain, can be adult men well into their forties, who have not reached the status of decision making elders, while married women mothering multiple children in their thirties would certainly not pass as youth. However, within the context of this research, which is interested in the role of education and patterns of occupational choice and social mobility, the focus was on female and male people in the age bracket of 12–35 years.
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Laube, W. (2016). Climate Change Adaptation, Education, and Rural Transformation in Northern Ghana. Moving Beyond an Agricultural Focus. In: Yaro, J., Hesselberg, J. (eds) Adaptation to Climate Change and Variability in Rural West Africa. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31499-0_8
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