school kids carry out their chores at the start of the school day in Donkorkrum, Ghana


A  L  C  C  A  R

Anticipatory Learning for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience
in Ghana and Tanzania

In January, 2009  we embarked on the ALCCAR Project, a 3.5 year NSF-funded study exploring approaches to community-based adaptation to climate change in sub-Sahara Africa.  We hypothesize that cyclical (loop) learning strengthens people's anticipatory capacity in decision-making with respect to climatic and other livelihood stressors.  Predicted future climate changes include temperature increases, less reliable rains during the growing season, and increased short-term extreme events such as floods and droughts. These trends are very likely to pose a huge burden for subsistence farming and fishing communities in west and east Africa.

ALCCAR's  collaborative action research approach seeks to bolster the capacity of at-risk rural communities to anticipate and creatively respond to climate change, particularly as played out in local socio-ecological systems. We're emphasizing iterative ways of analyzing, learning about, and proactively responding to environmental uncertainty.  

Our core team  traveled to field sites regularly from 2009 - 2012 to meet with African collaborators, pilot test instruments, engage village participants, and collect data in eight villages -- four in eastern and northern Tanzania, and four in Ghana's south-central forest-savanna transition zone. Recent activities includes community-based environmental monitoring, improvisational theater, and village-based planning. In June, 2012 the research team convened reflective workhsops in Dar es Salaam and Moshe, Tanzania and conducted exit interviews with village participants. The field work concluded with theatre festivals in Bagamoyo and Moshe, TZ, that used role plays to explore impacts of, and responses to, climate change.

ALCCAR core team at the Adowso ferry terminal, Ghana, June 2009

anomalies of predicted mean monthly precipitation (mm)
June/July/August, 2080-2099   
(Hewitson & Crane 2006, in Christensen et al. 2007)

on our way to meet with the chief of Xedzodzoekope village, Ghana


research team on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, June, 2012


semi-structured interviews, Odomase village                           hike to dry stream near Memchemfre village



climate change role plays, Bagamoyo, Tanzania                       
Ghanaian women's group constructs a spider-gram
                                                                                             of village sustainability and livelihood issues

Lake Volta fishers using the ingenious atidza method:  tree branches are
installed in muddy shallows for fish cover and forage; in several weeks an encircling net is installed,
branches thrown to the side, and
native tilapia (Oreochromis spp.) harvested 


Xedzodzoekope has no well, so residents rely on the dubious waters of the Volta reservoir

ALCCAR team:

Faculty investigators: 
  Petra Tschakert (PI, Geography/AESEDA)

  Ken Tamminga (co-PI, Landscape Arch./Ecology)
  Robert Crane (co-PI, AESEDA)
  Esther Prins (co-PI, Education)
  Simon Hooper (Education)
  Chris Hoadley (New York University)

PSU research associates:
  Katie Dietrich, Maureen Biermann
  and Jen Shaffer (post-doc)

African partners:
  University of Ghana

  Afram Plains Development Organization, Ghana
  University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  Red Cross / Red Crescent, Tanzania

National Science Foundation, Human and Social Dynamics Program, $750,000

general research methodology

Ghanaian symbol of adaptability

This material is based on work supported by the
 National Science Foundation under Award No. BCS-0826941.  Opinions, findings, and conclusions and recommendations expressed in this material are ours and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF.

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