Kabba Santigie Bangura (Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone)
Global climate change is often manifested in severe weather events which can affect rich and poor alike. However, the capacity for poor countries and communities to cope with these impacts is often weak and represents a significant development concern. The post-conflict West African nation of Sierra Leone is no exception. Rural areas in Sierra Leone are often characterised by vulnerable communities with insecure livelihoods that can be seriously damaged by severe weather events. Following an overview of some key issues relating to climate change in West Africa, the lecture then explores the experiences of rural people and identifies impacts and coping mechanisms used in response to these changes. The field based research on which this lecture is based adopted facilitated group discussion methodologies involving 250 participants drawn from five rural settlements in Kambia and Kono Districts of Sierra Leone. In the context of enhancing the future sustainability of rural livelihoods, the lecture identifies a number of policy recommendations including the provision of external support, enforcing land tenure arrangements, strengthening rural people's resilience, and encouraging collective and adaptive environmental management practices.