Dr Simon Bawakyillenuo and Innocent K. Agbelie from the ISSER at the University of Ghana offer their thoughts on the necessity of preparing for greater climate variability.
Since gaining independence on the 6th March 1957, this day in Ghana is always marked every year with great celebrations including, march passes by the security forces and schools. Needless to say the day is always declared a public holiday. The previous 56 Independence Day’s celebrations took place in clear and dry weather conditions. However, during the 57th Independence Day celebration this year (2014), an unprecedented torrent of rain fell. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, the President of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, had no option than to light the perpetual flame in remembranceof the unknown fallen soldiers as well as inspect the Independence Parade while the rain was pouring down.
Following the unique situation of this climatic event during the 57th Independence Day celebrations, both the ruling party (National Democratic Congress) and the main opposition party (New Patriotic Party) in the country have argued about the significance of the rain. While the former thinks it is a sign of good things to come under the ruling government, the latter demurs and argues that it was a bad omen. Indeed, it is clear that the arguments among the two parties are political gamesmanship. The reality, however, is that the sudden torrential rain on this day is a manifestation of the vagaries of climate change and variability. If ever the issues of climate change and variability were not treated seriously by some authorities or climate change agnostics in Ghana, this was the tip of the iceberg of the reality regarding climate change and variability. Climate change is real and, impacts all countries in different ways.
While the Ghana Meteorological Agency was blamed for not passing information early to the planners of the 57th Independence Day activities, it is not just enough to lay blame without a critical understanding of the state of infrastructure at this agency. Perhaps, the agency was limited technically in terms of providing detailed weather information for the day. At a time when climate change is a reality and not a mirage, it is imperative for the nation to invest in institutions and organisations that are dealing with these phenomena so as to provide scientifically sound early warning systems, climate change adaptations and mitigation strategies.