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Empowering women and transforming gender relations in the Volta delta

13 January 2020


Coastal erosion, salinization of freshwater lagoons and soils, and declining soil fertility have adversely affected the environment and livelihoods (mainly agricultural and fishing) of many populations in climate hotspots including coastal communities. Across Ghana, large proportions of males, mostly youth and smallholder farmers have resorted to rural-urban migration in search of jobs. Within the Volta delta for instance, findings from the DECCMA research revealed that employment (47%) and education (49%) are the main reasons driving out-migration. Forty-four percent (44%) of all households intend to migrate in the future for employment (84%) and educational (13%) purposes.

Be it seasonal, permanent or recurrent, rural dwellers largely regard migration as a key coping strategy to environmental changes that impact their livelihoods. The high numbers of male out-migration due to lack of ability to earn a living locally has led to high proportions of female-headed households creating additional labour burdens on women, who are left with the responsibility of taking care of their families whilst facing land tenure problems which result in conflicts due to a patrilineal inheritance system.



The main problem in this project is linked to Gender and Social Issues in Climate Compatible Development. This is related to the impact of climate change (coastal erosion and sea flooding) on women living in coastal communities in Ghana. High migration of males has left a substantial proportion of women as heads of their households and therefore with responsibility of taking care of their families including children. These women are confronted with land tenure issues because of patrilineal inheritance, which prevents them from having same access to lands as males.


This project seeks to undertake consultative and sensitisation meetings with appropriate stakeholders (land secretariats, traditional councils, district assemblies and women groups), disseminate knowledge products on land rights issues and train women on climate adaptive livelihoods (including access to micro finance).

The project is gender-transformative in nature, it challenges existing gender norms around land ownership and promotes the overall vision of men and women having equal access to land inheritance rights and opportunities for adaptive livelihoods. This project would also promote gender-responsive adaptive livelihoods informed by the DECCMA research findings. By adopting gender-sensitive approaches: ensuring gender norm-appropriate and sex-disaggregated engagements, and where relevant, ensuring the equal participation of women among government structures, the project aims to, in the medium to long term ensure that;   

  • Land secretariats and traditional councils in the project areas appreciate and accept the value and benefits of women inheriting land and, develop and promote widely women land rights policy
  • District assemblies have skills in adaptive livelihoods for delta districts, actively promote climate-resilient adaptive livelihoods in a gender-responsive manner (targeting vulnerable women) and have positive attitudes towards women.
  • Ultimately, women are inheriting and owning land, accessing microfinance and practicing climate resilient adaptive livelihoods that enable economic security.



The Empowering women and transforming gender relations project is being implemented in two delta districts (Keta and Sogakope) by the Regional Institute for Population Studies (RIPS) and IESS in partnership with Pro-Link, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) promoting equitable development of the rural and urban poor, especially women and girls with support from Kulima Integrated Development Solutions, South Africa.