Vulnerability Here, There, and Everywhere: What Happened to Ghana’s Decentralized Climate Change Adaptation Policy?

  • Issah Justice Musah-Surugu
  • Albert Ahenkan
  • Justice Nyigmah Bawole
  • Antwi Samuel Darkwah
Part of the Climate Change Management book series (CCM)


Across all the Bretton Wood institutions, decentralization has been touted as a fulcrum of good governance. This idea has had a sweeping effect across many areas of governance including climate change adaptation. However, the emerging climate change policy literature have had less focus on how decentralization can enhance adaptation governance at the local level. In Ghana, local governments have been given adaptation responsibility, through recently passed national climate change policies (NCCPs). This chapter of the book draws on experiences from the implementation of the NCCPs at the district level in Ghana which is perceived as a luminary of decentralization in Sub-Saharan Africa. The chapter specifically assesses the extent to which decentralization of NCCPs has impacted adaptation governance at the local level. The chapter therefore aims at fostering understanding of the nuances of implementing decentralized adaptation governance in developing countries among scholars and policy practitioners. It concludes that though decentralized adaptation governance in Ghana increases the institutional space for community participation in adaptation governance it is falling far short of creating a the management regime capable of building requisite adaptive capacity as envisage by the NCCPs at the local level. Although it is extremely premature to draw reliable conclusions, the chapter identified some positive trends amidst challenges.


Climate change Adaptation Decentralization Local government Governance 


  1. Adu-Boateng, A. (2015). Barriers to climate change policy responses for urban areas: A study of Tamale Metropolitan Assembly, Ghana. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 13, 49–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Agrawal, A. (2008). Local Institution and climate change adaptation. Social Development Notes: Community Driven Development, The Social Dimensions of climate change, 113, 1–8.Google Scholar
  3. Agyemang-Bonsu, W.K., Minia, Z., Dontwi, J., Dontwi, I.K., Buabeng, S. N., Baffoe-Bonnie, B., & Frimpong, E.B. (2008). Ghana climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessments. Accra: Environmental Protection Agency.Google Scholar
  4. Ayee, J. R. (1996). The measurement of decentralization: The Ghanaian experience, 1988–92. African Affairs, 95(378), 31–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bawole, J. N. (2017). Pro-poor decentralization in Ghana: Exploring the facilitators and the limitations. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 39(2), 122–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brockhaus, M., & Kambiré, H. (2009). Decentralization: A window of opportunity for successful adaptation to climate change? In W. N. Adger, I. Lorenzoni, & K. L. O’Brien (Eds.), Adapting to climate change: Thresholds, values, governance (pp. 399–416). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Butzer, K. W., & Endfield, G. H. (2012). Critical perspectives on historical collapse. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109(10), 3628–3631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative enquiry and research design: choosing among five traditions. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  9. Codjoe, S.N.A., Atidoh, L.K., & Burkett, V. (2012). Gender and occupational perspectives on adaptation to climate extremes in the Afram Plains of Ghana. Climatic Change, 110(1–2), 431–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dietz, T., Ostrom, E., & Stern, P. C. (2003). The struggle to govern the commons. Science, 302, 1907–1912.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eguavoen, I. (2012). Blessing and destruction: Climate change and trajectories of blame in Northern Ghana = Bénédiction et destruction (No. 99). ZEF Working Paper Series.Google Scholar
  12. Glazebrook, T. (2011). Women and climate change: A case-study from Northeast Ghana. Hypatia, 26(4), 762–782.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kumamoto, M., & Mills, A. (2012). What African countries perceive to be adaptation priorities: results from 20 countries in the Africa adaptation programme. Climate and Development, 4(4), 265–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. McSweeney, C., New, M., & Lizcano, G. (2008). UNDP climate change country profile: Ghana. Oxford Report. visited, 11, 2014.
  15. Mendelsohn, R., Dinar, A., & Williams, L. (2006). The distributional impact of climate change on rich and poor countries. Environment and Development Economics, 11(2), 159–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Musah-Surugu, J.I., Owusu, K., Yankson, P.W.K., & Ayisi, E.K. (2018). Mainstreaming climate change into local governance: financing and budgetary compliance in selected local governments in Ghana. Development in Practice, 28(1), 65–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Menz, F. C., & Vachon, S. (2006). The effectiveness of different policy regimes for promoting wind power: Experiences from the states. Energy policy, 34(14), 1786–1796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nadasdy, P. (2005). The anti-politics of TEK: The institutionalization of co-management discourse and practice. Anthropologica, 47(2), 215–232.Google Scholar
  19. Owusu, K., Obour, P. B., & Asare-Baffour, S. (2015). Climate variability and climate change impacts on smallholder farmers in the Akuapem North District, Ghana. Handbook of Climate Change Adaptation (pp. 1791–1806). Berlin Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Poole, J.H., & Leakey, R.E. (1996). Kenyan case study. Lutz E. and Caldecott J.(eds.), 54–63.Google Scholar
  21. Porter, G., & Young, E. (1998). Decentralized environmental management and popular participation in coastal Ghana. Journal of International Development, 10(4), 515–526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Ribot, J. C., & Larson, A. M. (2005). Decentralization of natural resources: experiences in Africa, Asia and Latin America. London: Frank Cass.Google Scholar
  23. World Bank, Mearns, R., & Norton, A. (2010). Social dimensions of climate change. Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  24. Würtenberger, L., Bunzeck, I.G., & van Tilburg, X. (2011). Initiatives related to climate change in GhanaGoogle Scholar
  25. Yaro, J.A. (2010). The social dimensions of adaptation to climate change in Ghana. World Bank Discussion Paper, 15, 88.Google Scholar
  26. Yaro, J. A., Teye, J., & Bawakyillenuo, S. (2015). Local institutions and adaptive capacity to climate change/variability in the northern savannah of Ghana. Climate and Development, 7(3), 235–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Yeboah-Assiamah, E. (2016). Power to the people! How far has the power gone to the people? A qualitative assessment of decentralization practice in Ghana. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 51(6), 683–699.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Zahran, S., Grover, H., Brody, S. D., & Vedlitz, A. (2008). Risk, stress, and capacity: Explaining metropolitan commitment to climate protection. Urban Affairs Review, 43(4), 447–474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Zheng, J., Xiao, L., Fang, X., Hao, Z., Ge, Q., & Li, B. (2014). How climate change impacted the collapse of the Ming dynasty. Climatic Change, 127(2), 169–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Issah Justice Musah-Surugu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Albert Ahenkan
    • 1
  • Justice Nyigmah Bawole
    • 1
  • Antwi Samuel Darkwah
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Public Administration and Health Services ManagementUniversity of Ghana Business School, LegonAccraGhana
  2. 2.Faculty of Regional Development and International StudiesMendel University in BrnoBrnoCzech Republic

Personalised recommendations