The Dayi River basin experiences annual extremes of flood and drought as a result of poor management of the river basin and these extremes are being exacerbated by climate change, resulting in loss of life, property, biodiversity and food insecurity/hunger. The ADAPTS (www.adapts.nl) Ghana Case project was therefore an appropriate intervention to reduce vulnerability to risks and resolve poor basin/natural resources governance issues.
- Knowledge Development: Studies to understand the context; connecting scientific studies with local knowledge and thereby enriching the understanding of all project stakeholders about climate change and its link to disasters and vulnerability; collective design of appropriate interventions.
- Local Action: These were activities undertaken with the beneficiary communities as interventions to reduce the effects of the annual floods on the communities living along the banks of the Dayi River, control poverty-driven environmental degradation such as deforestation along the banks of the river; the activities aimed at promoting good resource governance, management and secured livelihoods. These were actions such as development of natural infrastructure i.e. establishing buffer zones, raising of tree seedlings and planning, vertivar grass planning, introduction of climate resilience agriculture techniques like cocoa–agroforestry, training in vegetable production and provision of irrigation facilities and marketing of products. A Basin Board was set up that is made up local people to take decision on the management of basin which is linked to the government institution of river basin board under Water Resources Commission (WRC) and the local government authority. All these interventions were supported with capacity building on environmental security education.
- Dialogues: A multi-stakeholder platform was set up to engage duty bearers and right holders to mainstream lessons learnt into policy and practice in the basin. This was taken up by governmental Water Resources Commission and mainstreamed into basin management plans as a practice of choice. The later being the highest value contribution of the project.
The entire project process hinged on the principles of ownership, participation, inclusiveness, sustainability and demand driven. The three main phases/activities of the project described above therefore were critical to set the stage. i. Ownership: This was achieved through willingness of the community to participate in the project by demanding its participation. Only communities who requested to be in the project were shortlisted to participate in the knowledge development activities (activity 1). ii. The local skills and knowledge were integrated with the scientific findings and expressed needs, and the communities' interests became the activities implemented during the "Local Actions" phase (activity 2). iii. Role of local government and coordination: A local governance structure was set up, made of local stakeholders, farmers, traditional authorities, local government reps and WRC. This structure is the decision making and coordinating body of all activities in the districts and under supervision of WRC.
The process was inclusive and ensured that women, youth and elderly were brought on the board to allow for inclusive decision making. For example, in the allocation of plots for vegetable farming, women were located plots without discrimination. However, the physically challenged were not involved in farming activities though they participated in all capacity building efforts.
Selection of communities, sites and specific interventions were adjusted. For example, some communities who initially expressed interest in the project had to then later be turned down as they were found to have intractable leadership conflicts. Some project communities were also not involved in site specific vegetable production but just restoration of water shed. Participatory Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning framework was developed at the start of project and carried out regular field visits and monitoring meetings were under taken for feed backs to project beneficiaries and stakeholders and partners.
Continuation of initiatives by communities, i.e. the vegetable production part as a group effort, lasted for 3 years beyond the project until off-takers were not trustworthy anymore and farmers lost money. But activities such as tree crops like cocoa-agroforestry and other agronomic practices of soil and water conservation, are still being practices by communities. The governance structure for the management the basin is still functioning and meets regularly; that ensures awareness raising and sensitization, and regulating of activities in the sensitive areas of the river basin is done by the communities and the entire districts assemblies. These activities have been taken up by adjoining districts.
Income levels have increase by 50% and resilience in agriculture methodologies such as water shed protection, maize-legume intercropping and cocoa-agroforestry, has reduced the vulnerability of communities.