JDR Vol.9 No.4 pp. 542-553
doi: 10.20965/jdr.2014.p0542


Households’ Coping Strategies in Drought- and Flood-Prone Communities in Northern Ghana

Victor Lolig*1, Samuel A. Donkoh*1, Francis Kwabena Obeng*1,
Isaac Gershon Kodwo Ansah*1, Godfred Seidu Jasaw*2,
Yasuko Kusakari*3, Kwabena Owusu Asubonteng*3,
Bizoola Gandaa*1, Frederick Dayour*4, Togbiga Dzivenu*4,
and Gordana Kranjac-Berisavljevic*1

*1University for Development Studies (UDS), Nyankpala Campus, Tamale, Ghana

*2Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS), United Nations University, Japan

*3Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), United Nations University, Ghana

*4University for Development Studies (UDS), Wa campus, Upper West Region, Ghana

February 23, 2014
June 19, 2014
August 1, 2014
climate change, drought, flood, coping strategies
This study seeks to explore stakeholders’ perceptions, causes, and effects of extreme climatic events, such as droughts and floods, in the Wa West District of Ghana’s Upper West Region. A multi-stage sampling procedure is used to select 184 respondents. Data collection methods include individual questionnaire administration, focus group discussions, and a stakeholders’ forum in the Wa West District Assembly. While frequencies are used to show respondents’ perceptions of the severity of climate change effects, a treatmenteffect model is used to determine the factors influencing farmers’ choices of on-farm coping strategies over off-farm activities in both periods of drought and flood. Findings are the following: farmers perceive that climate change is real and has severe consequences. Consequently, they resort to both on-farm and off-farm strategies to cope with the effects of climate change. While men mostly adopt the former, women adopt the latter. Both strategies are, however, not viable for taking them out of poverty, though offfarm activities are more effective. Education and extension services are other important factors influencing the choice of coping strategies as well as farmers’ welfare. Farmers must be supported with more viable income-earning activities, ones that can take them out of poverty. Women should be given priority. Access to education and extension services must also be stepped up to facilitate the adoption of the coping strategies and to increase welfare.
Cite this article as:
V. Lolig, S. Donkoh, F. Obeng, I. Ansah, G. Jasaw, Y. Kusakari, K. Asubonteng, B. Gandaa, F. Dayour, T. Dzivenu, and G. Kranjac-Berisavljevic, “Households’ Coping Strategies in Drought- and Flood-Prone Communities in Northern Ghana,” J. Disaster Res., Vol.9 No.4, pp. 542-553, 2014.
Data files:
  1. [1] Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, “Climate change and Biodiversity,” IPCC Technical paper V, 2002.
  2. [2] J. S. I. Ingram, P. J. Gregory, and A. M. Izac, “The role of agronomic research in climate change and food security policy,” Agric. Ecosyst. Environ., Vol.126, No.1, pp. 4-12, 2008.
  3. [3] J. Dixon, A. Gulliver, and D. Gibbon, “Farming systems and poverty: improving farmers’ livelihoods in a changing world,” Rome and Washington, D.C., FAO and World Bank. 2001.
  4. [4] P. J. M. Cooper, J. Dimes, K. P. C. Rao, B. Shapiro, B. Shiferaw, and S. Twomlow, “Coping better with current climatic variability in the rain-fed farming systems of sub-Saharan Africa: An essential first step in adapting to future climate change?” Agric. Ecosyst. Environ. Vol.126, pp. 24-35, 2008.
  5. [5] D. B. Lobell, M. B. Burke, C. Tebaldi, M. D. Mastrandrea, W. P. Falcon, and R. L. Naylor, “Prioritizing climate change adaptation needs for food security in 2030,” Science, Vol.319, No.5863, pp. 607-610, 2008.
  6. [6] B. C. Bates, Z. W. Kundzewicz, S. Wu, J. P. Palutikof, “Climate Change andWater,” Technical Paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC Secretariat, Geneva, 210, 2008,
    available at: [accessed January 12, 2014]
  7. [7] “Africa’s development in a changing climate,” The World Bank, Washington D.C., 2009.
  8. [8] M. Boko, I. Niang, A. Nyong, C. Vogel, A. Githeko, M. Medany, B. Osman-Elasha, R. Tabo, and P. Yanda, “Africa: Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,” Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Int. Panel on Climate Change, M. L. Parry, O. F. Canziani, J. P. Palutikof, P. J. va der Linden, C. E. Hanson (Eds.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK, pp. 433-467, 2007,
    available at: [accessed November 15, 2013]
  9. [9] Ghana fact sheet 2010, cited on the August 4, 2010.
  10. [10] D. B. K. Dovie, “Ghana’s Post 2007 Floods and Households’ Vulnerability: Gender, Age and Spatial Analysis,” A Collaborative Research Project on Climate Change and Variability in Ghana, START/PACOM, University of Ghana, Legon, 2009.
  11. [11] Environmental Protection Agency, “Ghana Climate Change Impacts, Vulnerability and Adaptation Assessments,” Environmental Protection Agency, Accra, 2009.
  12. [12] Int. Panel on Climate Change, “Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,” Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC, 2007.
  13. [13] F. A. Armah, J. O. Odoi, G. T. Yengoh, S. Obiri, D. O. Yawson, and E. K. A. Afrifa, “Food Security and Climate Change in Drought-sensitive Savannah Zones of Ghana,” Mitig. Adapt. Strat. Gl., Vol.16, No.1, pp. 291-306, 2011.
  14. [14] World Bank, “Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change: Social Synthesis Report,” 1818 H Street NW Washington DC, USA, pp. 1-116, 2010.
  15. [15] G. R. Backerberg and M. F. Viljoen, Paper presented at a workshop of ICID Working Group on Irrigation under Drought and Water Scarcity, Tehran, I.R of Iran, 2003.
  16. [16] H. Wu and D. A. Wilhite, “An operational agricultural drought risk-assessment model for Nebraska,” USA. Nat. Hazards., Vol.33, pp. 1-21, 2004.
  17. [17] D. A. Wilhite, M. J. Hayes, and C. Knutson, “Planning for drought. Moving from crisis to risk management,” J. Am.Water Resour. Assoc. Vol.36, pp. 697-710, 2000.
  18. [18] C. Roncoli, K. Ingram, and P. Kirshen, “The costs and risks of coping with drought: livelihood impacts and farmers’ responses in Burkina Faso,” Clim. Res., Vol.19, No.2, pp. 119-132, 2001.
  19. [19] M. R. Motsholapheko, D. L. Kgathi, and C. Vanderpost, “Rural livelihoods and household adaptation to extreme flooding in the Okavango Delta,” Botswana. Phys. Chem. Earth, Vol.36, Nos.14-15, pp. 984-995. 2011.
  20. [20] United Nations, Relief Web, IRIN-WA Weekly Roundup 79 covering the period 30 Jun-6 Jul 2001, [accessed January 1, 2014]
  21. [21] D. A. Hastings, “Africa’s climate observed: perspectives on monitoring and management of floods, drought and desertification,” Climate Change and Africa, Cambridge University Press, pp. 50-59, 2005.
  22. [22] National Disaster Management Organization, “Flood statistics for Buipe and Yapei, 2003-2010,” Ghana: Buipe, 2010.
  23. [23] A. Dosu, “Fulani-farmer conflict and climate change in Ghana,” ICE Case Studies, No.258, 2011.
  24. [24] United Nations Development Programme, “UNDPs response to crisis prevention and recovery in northern Ghana,” 2009.
  25. [25] J. L. Arthur and A. A. Irene, “Movement Under Environmental Disasters: The Case of Flooding and Bush fires for Selected Periods in Ghana,” 2011.
  26. [26] R. Few, “Flooding, vulnerability and coping strategies: local responses to a global threat,” Progress Development Studies, Vol.3, No.1, pp. 43-58, 2003.
  27. [27] AAP and UNDP, “Development of Early Warning Climate Information for Flood and Drought-prone Districts in Northern parts of Ghana,” Final Technical Report, 2013.
  28. [28] N. K. Karley, “Flooding and physical planning in urban areas in West Africa: situational analysis of Accra, Ghana,” Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management, No.4, Issue 13, pp. 25-41, 2009.
  29. [29] D. Dovie, “Newsletter of the Climate Change Adaptation Project,” Water Resources Commission of Ghana, the Climate Change Adaptation Project, Vol.1, No.1, pp. 1-2. 2009.
  30. [30] F. K. Nti, “Climate Change Vulnerability and Coping Mechanisms among Farming Communities in Northern Ghana(a Master’s thesis),” submitted to Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, 2012,
    available at [accessed January 1, 2014]
  31. [31] J. A. Yaro, “The Social Dimensions of Adaptation to Climate Change in Ghana,” The World Bank Discussion paper, No.15, Washington, TheWorld Bank, 2010.
  32. [32] F. N. Y. Codjoe, C. K. Ocansey, D. O. Boateng, and J. Ofori, “Climate Change Awareness and Coping Strategies of Cocoa Farmers in Rural Ghana Journal of Biology,” Agriculture and Healthcare, Vol.3, No.11, 2013.
  33. [33] “Determinants of climate change and coping strategies among crop farmers in Ondo state, Nigeria,” Agricultural Research and Reviews, Vol.1, No.4, pp. 127-131, 2012, [accessed October 9, 2013]
  34. [34] T. T. Deressa, “Factors Affecting the Choices of Coping Strategies for Climate Extremes The Case of Farmers in the Nile Basin of Ethiopia,” IFPRI Discussion Paper 01032, 2010.
  35. [35] R. M. Al-Hassan, J. K. M. Kuwornu, P. M. Etwire, and Y. Osei-Owusu, “Determinants of Choice of Indigenous Climate Related Strategies by Smallholder Farmers in Northern Ghana,” British Journal of Environment & Climate Change, Vol.3, No.2, pp. 172-187, 2013.
  36. [36] F. N. Mabe, D. B. Sarpong, and Y. Osei-Asare, “Adaptive capacities of farmers to climate change adaptation strategies and their effects on rice production in the northern region of Ghana,” 2012.
  37. [37] J. J. Heckman and E. Vytlacil, “Structural Equations, Treatment Effects and Econometric Policy Evaluation,” Econometrica, Vol.73, No.3, pp. 669-738, 2005.
  38. [38] Maddala, “Econometrics in the 21st Century,” Int. Journal of Forecasting, Vol.19, 2003.
  39. [39] GLSS, “Pattern and trends of poverty in Ghana 1991-2006, Accra, Ghana,” 2007, [accessed November 16, 2012]
  40. [40] A. C. Patt, “Effective seasonal climate forecast applications; Examining constraints for subsistence farmers in Zimbabwe,” Glob. Environ. Chang., Vol.12, pp. 185-195, 2005.
  41. [41] A. Wild, “Soils and the Environment, An introduction,” Cambridge University Press, 2001.
  42. [42] S. A. Donkoh, “The Determinants of poverty in Ghana,” Development Spectrum, Vol.2, 2010.

*This site is desgined based on HTML5 and CSS3 for modern browsers, e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Edge, Opera.

Last updated on Jun. 19, 2024