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Community risk assessment of rainfall variability under rain-fed agriculture: the potential role of local knowledge in Ghana

Emmanuel K. Derbile
Dramani J.M. File


One of the overarching goal of vulnerability assessments to climate change is to inform Climate Change Adaptation Planning (CCAP) for minimizing livelihood vulnerability at the local level. However, a nuanced understanding of the perspectives of climate related risks among local populations affected is often lacking and or seldom explored in vulnerability assessments due to the dominance of top-down approaches. This paper explores the potential of Community Risk Assessment (CRA) and local knowledge as a bottom-up approach to community-based risk assessment of rainfall variability in Ghana. A qualitative research design involving the application of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methods was employed for data collection and analysis. A case is made for the potential of CRA and local knowledge in vulnerability assessment at the local level. Combining CRA with local knowledge in risk assessment of rainfall variability yielded results comparable to what is known in the climate change scientific community. The key climate related risks included shortening rainfall season, decreased rainfall intensities and amounts and irregular and unpredictable rainfall patterns. However, CRA provided localized detail about the context, local knowledge and perspectives for a nuanced understanding of climate related risks. Therefore the paper advocates CRA and a role for local knowledge in climate change vulnerability assessments in Developing Countries and Ghana in particular.

Keywords: Community Risk Assessment, Local Knowledge, Vulnerability, Climate Variability, Ghana

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eISSN: 0855-6768
print ISSN: 0855-6768