A Remote Sensing Expert, Dr Emmanuel Amamoo-Otchere, says the current intense weather conditions being experienced in the country is an opportunity for the adoption of environmentally friendly practices that would be to the benefit of all Ghanaians.
He said although the current intense harmattan conditions could either be due to ordinary changes in climatic conditions, or a part of the processes of climate change, Ghanaians had to plan on the assumption of both scenarios and adopt practices to lessen the adverse impact of any of the two.
For instance, Dr Amamoo-Otchere, said areas of low rainfall like the Winneba Plains, Gomoa Ekumfi and some areas along the coast, all experienced acute water shortages during the harmattan season.
That resulted in residents resorting to muddy and unclean water and that also brought about the incidence of the guinea worm disease.
Initiatives, he said, were needed to ensure that such areas did not experience such acute shortages of water in such seasons.
He proposed tree planting as one of such initiatives in very dry areas in the country.
Dr Amamoo Otchere deplored an emerging trend in the country were houses were constructed with glass, limiting free ventilation and compelling those who lived in them to resort to artificial ventilation like air conditioning.
He said generally, Ghana was a warm country, thus that practice of building houses with glass, only increased the country’s bill on electricity.
He said the opportunity of creating a low carbon economy, that is, the efficient use of energy that eliminates carbon emission into the atmosphere, could be achieved if education was undertaken particularly during times of intense weather conditions, on behaviour change.
Education on the right use of land and the right agricultural practices, among others, were important to make Ghana a low carbon economy.
He said there was a World Bank grant to help countries change their patterns of land use and become low carbon economies and Ghana could take advantage of that.
Meanwhile, a meteorologist of the Ghana Meteorological Agency (GMA), Mr Amos Narh has said the current intense harmattan conditions could persist for a month or two, with the possibility of a relaxation in the intensity over the weeks.
Despite the fact that some Ghanaians find the weather conditions intense, he said the current weather conditions were normal.
Mr Narh said the harmattan was evident in December, but it got intense just in the third week of January.
Sometimes the onset of the harmattan was outright, he explained, at other times, it came in strong, then there is a relaxation of the conditions, and this pattern could be repeated three times during the harmattan period.
With the current conditions, he said there could be periods of relaxation where some areas could have clouds and rains, but all that depended on the atmospheric pressure over the country.
Mr Narh said precautionary measures, had to be exercised by all particularly care in lighting fires in the bush as bush fires could easily result because the grass and foliage was dry and its aftermath devastating.
Drivers driving at dawn had to be cautious as visibility was poor, while fog lights needed to be used, he added.
Mr Narh explained that South West winds across the Sahara dessert, collected the desert sands from high pressure areas like North Africa to low pressure areas like Ghana and other West African countries, such as, Senegal, Nigeria, Burkina Fasso, and Niger.
That accounted for the haze in the atmosphere and the dusty conditions all around.
He said those prone to health challenges from dust, had to also take precaution when outdoors. Some simple measures that could be taken was the covering of the nosed to avoid excessive inhalation of dust.
He also suggested warm baths instead of cold and for all to keep was as harmattan conditions were times when there was an increase in coughs and colds.
DAILY GRAPHIC, WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 28, 2009, BACK PAGE