Drought impact on peri-urban farmers’ mental health in semi-arid Ghana: The moderating role of personal social capital

Matthew Abunyewah, Seth Asare Okyere, Seth Opoku Mensah, Michael Erdiaw-Kwasie, Thayaparan Gajendran, Mitchell K. Byrne

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Abstract

Drought represents a major climate hazard in semi-arid regions. Existing literature has extensively documented drought's economic and environmental impacts across Africa with little attention to the psychological impact of drought. Our study examined the impact of drought on farmers' mental health in the Talensi district, Ghana. In addition, we investigated the moderating effects of personal social capital on the relationships between drought impact and three mental health outcomes-depression, anxiety, and stress. Based on a survey of 507 farmers, drought impact has a positive statistically significant relationship with depression (β = 0.51, p < 0.001), anxiety (β = 0.24, p < 0.05), and stress (β = 0.36, p < 0.001), implying that extended drought and increased severity adversely affect farmers' mental health. Personal social capital was found to be a moderator between drought impacts and mental health outcomes, which suggests that personal social capital is an essential resource to deal with mental health challenges associated with drought. Policy-wise, we submit that integrating psychological support services in climate adaptation initiatives, weaving social capital with other forms of capital (e.g., human, physical, economic, and cultural), and implementing sustainable livelihood diversification programs could mitigate the underlying issues that exacerbate mental health vulnerabilities associated with drought.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100960
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironmental Development
Volume49
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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