Counting on Luck, Coincidence and God

Rainfall patterns have changed significantly in northern Ghana due to climate change. Farmers can no longer plan their farming activities based on traditional knowledge, and they now rely – more than ever – on weather information.

Mwin Augustine lives with his family in Nanville, nothwestern Ghana, where people’s livelihoods are almost entirely dependent on maize farming.

This year Mwin’s yield from maize has been decent, much better than what other farmers have harvested. The good result was a surprise to Mwin, as he got wrong advice on when to sow.

Mwin and his family started clearing the farm and preparing for the season in April. They followed weather predictions and rain forecast over the radio to decide when was the best time to plant. But the predictions weren’t right.

Despite the incorrect weather information, Mwin sowed his maize in late May and hoped for the best. “Everyone was doubting, but thanks to God we got enough water. Luckily we had a good maize harvest this year”.

Mwin was indeed lucky, as he has a big family consisting of 19 people. A good harvest is crucial to ensure nobody goes hungry. Although Mwin’s family also grows groundnuts, okra, bambara beans and other vegetables, maize remains their main subsistence crop.

Usually Mwin stays informed of changes in the weather by listening to the radio, but he also counts months to know when to plant his crops. As the climate and rainfall patterns continue to change, this method is becoming increasingly unreliable. When there is not enough rainfall and the harvest is bad, Mwin’s family have almost starved as they have no adaptation strategies or other income to rely on.

CARE Ghana is now working in Nanville and thirteen other communities in northern Ghana to help vulnerable people adapt to the changing climate. CARE’s Adaptation Learning Programme for Africa (ALP) also works with communities to help them understand the changes they face and take informed and appropriate actions.

Moreover, ALP has installed a rain gauge in Nanville and trained monitors to keep track of rainfall and report it to the Ghana Meteorological Institute. The Institute uses the collected data to make precise district-level weather predictions, which can help families like Mwin Augustine’s to plan their farming activities with accurate information at hand.