Climate@Noon - Gendered Climate Vulnerability & Food Security in Ghana

by Northern Climate Network


Fri, Sep 10, 2021

12 PM – 1 PM EDT (GMT-4)

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1401 Presque Isle Ave, Marquette, MI 49855, United States

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Title: Farming the Floodplain: Gendered Surplus People, Food Security, and Maladaptation to Climate Change in Northern Ghana

The floodplain of the Black Volta River, traversing the Ghana-Burkina Faso international border, offers considerable potential for agriculture. Yet, it is a risk-filled landscape with acute vulnerability to flooding. In this presentation, I explain why agriculture in the floodplain remains so popular when it manifestly causes more problems. I draw upon Karl Marx's theory of relative surplus population, and empirical fieldwork using in-depth interviews with farmers and government officials (n=68). Overall, I argue that mining-induced land displacement, which leads to landlessness and the creation of a relative surplus people, compels farmers to engage in floodplain agriculture with heightened vulnerability to climate extremes. For landless women in particular, an additional pressure is gendered responsibilities in household food provisioning, as well as subjectivities linked to norms of being good wives, mothers, and daughters-in-law. To reduce agriculture's sensitivity to flooding, farmers often raise artificial levees on the floodplain or alter fields to drain water more quickly. I assess the maladaptive outcomes of these practices including rebounding and shifting vulnerability, as well as eroding sustainable development options.

Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong is an Assistant Professor of geography at the University of Denver. His research focuses on the human dimensions of global environmental change, and sustainable agriculture and food systems.

Hanson is brilliant and has just launched an exciting new research project with Dr. Ryan Stock (NMU) exploring gendered livelihoods and solar development as a climate mitigation strategy in Ghana. Hope to see you at his talk!



1401 Presque Isle Ave, Marquette, MI 49855, United States

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