Dr Bob Offei Manteaw, Principal and Senior Research Collaborator for the Africa Resilience Collaborative project says the protracted Fulani crisis in the Agogo Traditional Area, is the first potential climate change conflict in Ghana.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Dr Manteaw revealed that the current crisis is inherently climate change-induced and it is important that this underlying cause is highlighted.
He said: “There may be supplementary social, cultural and even political factors, which could be equally relevant and important; however, the environmental factors cannot be ignored.”
Dr Manteaw noted that the Fulani herdsmen have had to travel long distances not because they enjoy it, but to look for water and pastures that are greener than where they came from.
He said the herdsmen are compelled by climatic and environmental circumstances to migrate and Agogo in the Ashanti Region is where they have found comfort.
"For them, as it will be for all humans, it is a matter of survival and that is the simple truth,” he said.
“It has become easier and convenient for other attributions to be made and highlighted while perhaps the most important reason—climate change—seem to have been muted or relegated in discussions on the crisis."
Dr Manteaw said those attributions are easily perceived and constructed and that people find it easier and convenient to ascribe other reasons while issues around climate change remain hard to be determined, or easily to be denied.
He praised President John Dramani Mahama who in a recent comment on the Fulani crisis made direct reference to climate change as being a part-cause of the problem and called on people to pay attention to that.
"Those comments from the president were particularly refreshing and instructive. Not many politicians, in the country or even all over Africa make such attributions to climate change and that is the reason climate change seem to lack political leadership in our part of the world.
“I give the President a lot of credit in this instance, if he is convinced that the Fulani crisis is a climate change problem then I am sure he is also aware how much of political leadership that is needed to support community-level climate action in the country”.
Dr Manteaw who is also a Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Specialist, called on President Mahama and other political leaders, policy makers, educators, the media as well as traditional rulers to take the issue of climate change seriously in local communities.
“The simple truth is that what has become known as the Fulani crisis is indeed a climate change crisis which has resulted in what looks like the first climate change-induced conflict in the country.”
He warned that, “if anybody doubted what climate change could do and is doing already in the country, we should draw serious lessons from what is going on in Agogo”.
“A lot more of such conflicts could occur in relation to other resources, scarcity and competition for access breeds conflicts.”
According to him water is a good example and a potential source for community conflict.
He said water levels in the Akosombo Dam, for instance, have been in constant decline yet not many people link that to climate change, adding that there may be other factors, but scientific projections have consistently pointed to this level of dryness.
Dr Manteaw observed that climate change is here and its manifestation and impacts are evident and verifiable in most communities.
He said people in their communities need to be aware and must understand that Government, the media, educators and local communities need to be proactive in creating the necessary awareness and understanding.
He said: "If for nothing else, the current situation in Agogo should teach us lessons about climate-induced resource scarcity and how competition for such scarce resources could degenerate into violent conflicts."
According to Dr Manteaw, the Fulani crisis in Agogo is certainly a climate change conflict and President Mahama hit it right on the nail.
He said: "Africa Resilience is already at work in local communities to help stakeholders to come to terms with the reality of climate change."
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