The Vice-Chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof. William Otoo-Ellis, has reminded countries in Africa about the devastating impact of climate change on the socio-economic lives of their people.
He mentioned food insecurity following decline in crop yields of between five and 25 per cent and a projected revenue drop from 17 to 32 per cent as some of the effects of climate change that could occur on the continent.
Prof. Otoo-Ellis, who is a food scientist, further indicated that climate change would also have a serious impact on land use for both livestock and crop farming if the activities that precipitated the change were not stopped.
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He was addressing the first stakeholder consultation workshop on climate change organised by the KNUST branch of the West Africa Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) in Kumasi last Wednesday.
The objectives of WASCAL include building the capacities of members to manage natural resources and developing and coordinating research agenda for the entire sub-region.
Currently, 10 WASCAL centres have been created in Africa where it is shaping policies to deal with the growing menace.
The vice-chancellor noted that in spite of education on the effects of climate change, the sector was not being given the necessary attention in the country’s sectoral development policies and strategies.
He described the situation as worrying, to the extent that if it was not checked, it could create a bleak future for member countries.
For instance, he said, the length of the maturing period for most crops could drop below 90 days in the Sahel region.
“Climate change poses a real challenge to natural and human systems in sub-Saharan Africa,” Prof. Otoo-Ellis emphasised.
A Nigerian scientist, Prof. Jerome Omotosho, said governments in the sub-region were partly to blame for the destruction of the environment because of price hikes on petroleum products such as liquified petroleum gas (LPG) and kerosene which were basic necessities.
He said such decisions made African governments hypocritical in that while they preached on the need to curb environmental degradation, their actions did not reflect their thoughts.
“The continuous increase in the prices of petroleum products will invariably compel our rural folks to go back to the bush and fell more trees. Our governments must have a change in policy direction and tackle climate change realistically,” he urged.
A five-member committee to represent Ghana at the regional consultative meeting is to be announced next month.