Hailing from West Africa, Ghanaian Kwame Owusu-Daaku joined Borlaug LEAP as a Spring 2015 Fellow as he pursued his PhD in Geography. His research is focused on the effects of climate change and its impact on the food security of the people in the Ghanaian Volta River Delta. Because of the complexity of the delta environment, climate change can often manifest itself differently depending on the physical and social characteristics of the area. In addition, many people depend on these delta regions for transportation, food and employment. Kwame hopes to discover what changes have occurred as seen through the eyes of the people that live there, how those changes have affected food security and what future options there might be. He will be interacting with people face to face, in the areas where they live and work, in hopes of gaining enough information to provide possible solutions to environmental and social policy-makers in the country and throughout West Africa. Ghana is also a Feed the Future identified country and his efforts will hopefully help them fulfill their in-country development goals.
As a social scientist, Kwame hopes to bring another perspective to the food security issue that the so-called “hard sciences” don’t often explore: the people’s perspective. By taking into account the personal narratives of two ethnically distinct people groups in the towns of Ada Foah and Keta, he hopes to gain greater insight into how changes affect different parts of the population. He also plans to interview government officials and non-governmental professionals who work in the areas to see how their perspectives influence and are influenced by the perspectives of the local people. He defines leadership as “service” and, as such, he hopes that his work will help serve some of the more vulnerable populations in Ghana. Kwame has already spent much of his time serving in various organizations, starting with his leadership role on his high school’s editorial board. He has continued volunteering his time, serving his community, and hopes that he will be able to use his leadership skills to remain sensitive to the needs of others. He looks to use the knowledge he gains while gathering information for his degree to engage with decision-makers and bring about innovation and change.
As a student at the University of South Carolina, Kwame had the opportunity to continue his work with mentor and PhD advisor Dr. Edward Carr, an associate professor of Geography and the director of the Humanitarian Response and Development Lab. He assisted Kwame with his research design and methodology, and gave him advice on his dissertation. His Borlaug LEAP fellowship also enabled Kwame to work with Dr. Katherine Snyder at the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). She is a Senior Social Scientist at CIAT and she specializes in Gender, Policies and Institutions. Dr. Snyder helped guide Kwame's efforts on any issues of gender and social status that came up during the course of his research. Kwame’s goal is to complete his PhD by 2017.