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Adapting Watersheds to Climate Change and Variability in West Africa.

Congress: 2008
Author(s):
Monica Idinoba, Benjamin Gyampoh and Johnson Nkem Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)Burkina Faso and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Ghana
AbstractClimate change and its potential impact remain a fundamental issue for sustainable development in the next decades in Africa. In developing nations, where per capita demand for natural resources is fast rising due to several reasons, the need to develop and mainstream adaptation measures into national development for economies that depends almost entirely on natural resources for economic growth and sustainability is imperative. The watershed in the region have for decades played critical role in the sustainability of livelihood of the urban and rural communities. It provides water resources for consumption even to large cities, hydroelectric power, recreational activities, navigation and manufacturing. It also provides other forest goods and services for the short term welfare of the communities around the watershed. The regionís economic future therefore depends upon how the ecological and other functions of watershed are adapted to respond to potential threats from climate change impact. Current observation reveal a decreasing rainfall amount and skewed distribution, increased temperature and rapid destruction of the riparian forest around the watershed, resulting in considerably alteration in ecosystem function in the past three decades. However, the degree of vulnerability of the watershed and itís dependent communities to climate change and variability is not clearly understood. The pathways to the watershed ecological systems alteration has not been studied and documented, making it difficult to propose any future adaptation strategies. Hence, the primary goal of this study was to contribute to the processes of adaptation to climate change through the assessment of vulnerability of the watersheds and its dependent communities. This assessment provides an overview of the ecological change, deforestation, water quality and quantity and the potential impacts on the water transmission systems on the watersheds and subsequently on livelihood.
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