Local Perspectives on the Causes of Climate Change in Rural Ghana: Implications for Development Planning
This paper explores local knowledge of the Sisaala on the causes of climate change and variability in rural north-western Ghana and the implications for development planning. While debates arising from western scientific research on the causes of climate change are clearer at the global and regional scales, knowledge of localized perspectives is often lacking to bring completeness to the diversity of understandings imperative for informing development planning at local levels, especially in Africa. This paper contributes to filling this gap and draws on data collected from in-depth interviews and focus group discussions from a cross section of people in the Sissala East District. From local perspectives, climate change is caused by multiple factors, including the felling of trees, bush burning, over grazing, use of modern agriculture machinery and agrochemicals, breakdown in spirituality, traditional religion, and values for bio-diversity conservation. The paper argues that local knowledge on the causes of climate variability largely corroborates the anthropogenic view of the causes of climate change; and that perspectives on the spiritual cause of climate change is attributable to a holistic worldview of the indigenous Sissala. The paper underscores the relevance of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Planning (CCMAP) in the context of decentralization and local governance. It emphasizes the importance of Endogenous Development (ED) and Behavioral Change Communication approaches to district development planning for maximizing local knowledge and resources for achieving sustainability.