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Is the dry season in Ghana still between November and March – A climate change data story

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Thu, 22 Jun 2023 Source:

The climate in every country is a very important factor in the determination of economic activities. But in less developed countries like Ghana, the weather basically determines everything in the country because of the lack of advancement in technology compared to developed countries.

In agriculture for instance, although there has been some progress over the past few years, the prices of food commodities are basically determined by the season of the weather. During the rainy seasons, there is generally an abundance of food and hence a reduction in the price of food while the dry season is usually the opposite.

While the rains are welcome, the amount of rainfall is also prayed for. Too much rain leads to floods which sometimes destroys farm of farmers crying for them; leads to the already poor road network in farming communities (mostly rural) making it impossible for farmer to transport their produce to markets mostly in urban centres.

Not only do floods badly affect road networks, but they also lead to the overflow of rivers and streams making travels via these water bodies, which are relied on in some parts of the country, dangerous and nearly impossible. This does not only hamper access to critical services and also affects travels to Ghana’s wonderful tourist sites, not forgetting the loss of life and properties.

On the other hand, the lack of rainfall or rainfall below expected levels also has its consequences including the drying of water bodies and reduction in farm produce among others.

The scenarios painted above have been reported in the media over the past few years. We have heard of reports of unusual weather conditions in Ghana; rainfall at unexpected periods, unprecedented levels of rainfall and extended periods of no rainfall. But is this the case? What does the data say? This article explores data on rain in the country over the past few years as well as measures to curb the impact of extreme changes in weather conditions in Ghana, the data points out.

Seasons in Ghana

According to the Ghana Metrological Agency, there are two seasons when it comes to the weather in Ghana, namely; the dry season and the rainy season. While the northern parts of Ghana experience one rainy season – from April to mid-October – most of the southern parts experience two rainy seasons – a major season from April to July and a minor from September to November.

The dry season is most from November to March and is characterised by little or no rainfall with January being mostly the driest of all months.

Generally, there is little or no rainfall between November and February across the country. Rainfall begins in March, raises slowly and peaks between June and July and then decreases slowly till November.

Fig 1: Data from the World Bank’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal, authors analysis:

However, over the past decades, there have been some noticeable variations in the monthly average rainfall recorded. Some dry months are drier, others relatively wet. Also, some rainy months are becoming less wet while others are receiving more amount of rain.

Fig 2. Data from the World Bank’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal, authors analysis:

Recent evidence of rainfall from different parts of Ghana

Now let’s take a look at some data on monthly rainfall in Ghana from selected communities from the southern, central and northern parts of Ghana to see if there have been extreme variations in the weather pattern in parts of the country.


For the southern parts of Ghana, we consider monthly rainfall data from Saltpond, a community in the Central Region, which is noted for high levels of rainfall.

Dry Season

Fig 3: Data from the Ghana Metrological Agency, author’s analysis:

Generally, the amount of rainfall recorded for a dry season increased between 2006 and 2018, particularly for the months of December and January. For instance, in 2008 the amount of rainfall recorded for December was over 63 millimetres (mm), in 2011 was 43.5mm and in 2017 over 113mm – these levels of rainfall are classified as moderate. For January which is considered the driest month in the year, rainfall recorded in 2014 was almost 60mm and in 2017 was 73.4mm.

Another important thing to note is the trend of rainfall which showed some serious fluctuations in the monthly rainfall recorded. For example, the rainfall recorded in December 2007 was around 30mm just a year later, in 2008, it increases to 53.2mm. In 2016, rainfall recorded was 3.4mm and just a year after it increased by a 100-fold to over 113.1mm.

Wet season

Fig 4: Data from the Ghana Metrological Agency, author’s analysis:

For the rainy season in Saltpond, as expected, the amount of rainfall was huge, especially for May and June which are mostly the peaks of the season in Ghana.

But one cannot help but notice the huge variations in rainfall for the two months in particular. In 2006 for example, rainfall for May 2006 was over 337mm, it reduced drastically to below 200m in May 2007. For May 2014, the monthly rainfall recorded was almost 380mm but the following year, May 2015, it reduced to 178mm and further reduced in May 2016 to 100mm.

Sefwi Bekwai

Sefwi Bekwai is a community in the Western Region of Ghana, in the central part of Ghana, which is noted for high levels of rain.

Dry Season:

Fig 5. Data from the Ghana Metrological Agency, authors analysis:

The data showed a high amount of rainfall generally for a dry season with rainfall for some months exceeding the moderate 100mm for many of the years in question. In 2007 for instance rainfall recorded was 111.5mm; in December 2008, 128mm; in January, 101.2 and in January 2018, 117.8mm.

The data also showed that for most of the years, there were noticeable fluctuations in monthly rainfall across the years. The amount of rainfall in December 2007 was 1.8m but in December 2008 was 128mm.

Rainy season:

Fig 6. Data from the Ghana Metrological Agency, authors analysis; NB: There was no data for May 2013:

Compare to Saltpond, Sefwi Bekwai record relatively less rainfall in the rainy season from 2006 to 2018. The only month for the period in question which recorded rainfall close to 350mm was June 2009.

Also, with the exception of some few outliers rainfall in Bekwai was mostly in between the 100mm to 250m range


Wa is the capital town of the Upper West Region in the northern parts of Ghana and like many towns in this part of the country, there is little or no rainfall for longer periods especially in the dry season.

Dry season

Fig 7. Data from the Ghana Metrological Agency, authors analysis:

Between 2006 and 2018 there were only seven months of rainfall in the dry season from 2006 to 2018; January 2006, February 2006, February 20011, February 2012, February 2013, February 2015 and February 2018.

The ‘extreme’ rainfall recorded within this period was in February 2013 and February 2018 which recorded mild rainfall levels of 64mm and 94 mm respectively.

Rainy season:

Fig 8. Data from the Ghana Metrological Agency, authors analysis:

Generally, there was an increase in rainfall for the period in question. The peaked for most of the year in June and the highest rainfall was seen in June 2009.

Also, the trend of rainfall showed serious fluctuations in monthly rainfall from 2006 to 2018. For example, the rainfall record in May 2006 was below 50mm but the following year (May 2007) it increased to nearly 200mm and it reduce again to around 105mm the year after (May 2008).

Challenges and way forward:

As pointed out by the data available, different parts of the country had to deal with the consequences of extreme weather conditions be it too much rainfall than expected or more rainfall than expected.

A study on the impact of floods by Samuel Asumadu-Sarkodie indicates that 21 climate-related disasters were recorded in Ghana as of 2015, with 18 floods and 3 droughts. Over 16 million people were affected and the damages caused amount to more than $108 million.

George Ayisi - NADMO Communications director

The Director of Communication of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), George Ayisi, in an interview with GhanaWeb, affirmed that there has been an increase in climate-related disasters, particularly flooding in Ghana.

According to him, not only are flood-prone areas in Ghana seeing more water but the floods are spreading to more places to more areas.

“They (floods) have become widespread. They (the floods) are not seen only in Accra., at this stage areas in Cape Coast, Takoradi, Western Region, Northern, Upper East, Upper West, North East and Savana all are experiencing flooding.

“They have been experiencing but the rate has gone up. In the northern parts of the country, the southern zone and the middle belt, we get reports of flooding all over,” he told GhanaWeb’s Ishmael Batoma.

He added that the number of flood victims recorded yearly has increased tremendously.

Data on flood victims:

Fig 9:Source NADMO

The communication director also said that the organisation’s expenditure has increased tremendously because of the increase in floods.

Picture: NADMO officers helping flood victims in 2022

Ablah Dzifa Gomashie – MP for Ketu South

Ablah Dzifa Gomashie, the Member of Parliament (MP) of Ghana for Ketu South Constituency, one of the flood-prone areas in Ghana, also affirmed the increase in climate-related disasters in her constituency.

Speaking in an interview with GhanaWeb, the MP said that she has never seen the level of rainfall and floods recorded recently since she first visited the constituency in 1993

“I have witnessed that tide waves were also more frequent in 2021 and 2022 than in previous years. Records show that it used to appear once a year but in 2021 and 2022, we had it three times in one year. So, the effects of climate change, global warming is real,” she added.

Picture2: Flood in Ketu South in 2022:

Dzifa Gomashie, however, indicated that the floods seen in her constituency are not only because of the increase in rainfall.

“Human activities have also contributed to some of these things, I must admit. In the case of the flooding that we have now, I see that some of the communities are filling lagoons and wetlands and are constructing solid buildings, so once we take away the space that the water occupies it has to find somewhere else to live.

“In the last three weeks that I toured the communities to see the number of communities that have been affected… there is evidence that all three traditional areas are affected, which is not a usual thing. That also points to the fact that the effect of human activities is why it (the floods) is going into every community.

“Let us take Agbozume, for example, it has 10 electoral areas, all the 10 electoral areas are flooded. Whereas back in the day, the areas closest to the lagoon would be the ones that would be affected, now it is everywhere,” she pointed out.

On ways to reduce the level of floods and also mitigate their impact, the MP suggested that lagoons in her constituency must be dredged so that rainwater would have enough room to stay in them.

She also called on the government to construct storm drains leading to the sea and also build dams to store rainwater. She also called for the restructuring and retooling of NADMO for it to become more effective.

Prof Simon Mariwah - Assicoiat Professor of Geograph

Prof Simon Mariwah, an Associate Professor in Health and Development Geography at the Department of Geography and Regional Planning, University of Cape Coast, indicated that the increase in floods seen in Ghana over the past few years is not only due to an increase in rainfall.

In an interview with GhanaWeb, Prof Mariwah explained that no matter the amount of rainfall a good drainage system can help avert the levels of floods that are seen today.

“Anywhere there is flooding there are a number of factors contributing to it. One of them is extreme rainfall with a high amount of rain which can overrun the capacity of the infrastructure – the drainage systems that are in place.

“If you have good drainage systems, they should be able to take care of any amount of water that comes from rainfall. But if you don’t have good drainage systems, it doesn’t matter how small, the area can still flood. So, it is both of them – poor drainage system and the impact of climate change,” he said.

The Odaw River at Circle, Accra being desilted

The way forward

The academic added that another important factor that leads to flood in Ghana is the blockage of waterways by illegal structures and drainage systems by poor disposal practices and siltation.

To help curb the impact of climate change including the increase in flooding, Prof Mariwah explained that the government has to prioritise its investment in the fight against climate change given the change of funding.

He also called for education and the enforcement of laws and regulations that would prevent the putting up of structures on waterways and wetlands as well as ensure proper waste disposal.

This report is produced in fulfilment of the UNESCO & CIJ London Climate Change in News Media project facilitated by the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development.

Authored by: Ishmael Batoma

Meanwhile, watch other climate change interviews done by GhanaWeb below:

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