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Grazing game: a learning tool for adaptive management in response to climate variability in semiarid areas of Ghana

Grace B Villamor, Department of Ecology and Natural Resources Management, Center for Development Research, University of Bonn
Biola K Badmos, Kwara State University, Malete, Nigeria

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-08139-210139

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Abstract

In West Africa, the most extreme predicted effects of climate change are expected to occur in desert and grassland areas. It is crucial for local populations in this region to better understand what such projections signify to them to identify sound adaptation policies and interventions. We developed a game, called the “grazing game,” and conducted trials with local farmers at multiple study sites as a learning tool to better understand their behavior in response to climate variability under semiarid conditions in West Africa and to facilitate social learning. The grazing game was designed to reveal the processes that lead to overgrazing and desertification based on the players’ interactions with environmental conditions and their resulting decisions. We conducted a total of 23 game trials around the Vea catchment of the Upper East Region of Ghana involving 243 individual farmers. From the games, local farmers exhibited a very positive response to how the game replicated rainfall fluctuations that they currently experience and led to the identification of coping strategies, such as selling cows, seeking government assistance, and engaging in alternative livelihood means. Participating farmers tended to avoid uncertain situations and sought to simplify their decisions, and the game provided insight into the rich local ecological knowledge of environmental indicators. Based on the game trial results, we found that the game facilitated instrumental and communicative learning among the players and facilitators. Further, the game served as a platform where players could share their views, knowledge, and perceptions of climate-related issues.

Key words

anticipatory learning; coping strategies; dry lands; local ecological knowledge; overgrazing; rainfall fluctuations; role-playing games

Copyright © 2016 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article  is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.  You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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