Having spent the first three decades of my life in farming communities, I have come to understand the complex relationships between nature and society: how competition over access and use of environmental resources has resulted in conflicts and the impacts of these conflicts on society. This situation is underpinned by the fact the natural environment serves as the key source of livelihoods in most rural communities especially in the Global South. It is against this background that I pledge to pursue academic knowledge in an area that explores the implications of the competition over environmental resources for societal cohesion.
Before my university education, I worked as an Agricultural Extension Officer in the cocoa production sector in Ghana. In this position, I was directly responsible for extending knowledge on best farming and environmental practices to farmers while also contributing to the resolution of conflicts between individual farmers and community groups. In 2002, I graduated from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, with Bachelor of Arts in Population Studies and Master of Philosophy in Geography five years later. My master’s thesis on refugee-host interaction brought me closer to the realities of conflicts emanating from competition over environmental resource use between refugees and hosts. Since graduating with a master’s degree in 2007, I have consistently researched into issues of resource conflicts in refugee settings and its effect on peaceful co-existence between refugees and host populations. This experience subsequently informs my current doctoral research which focuses on the implications of environmental resource use by refugees for local integration of long term refugees in Ghana. Between 2005 and 2008 I was a social scientist with the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA), a non-governmental organisation involved in the analysis of environmental activities of mining companies in Ghana. I was responsible for analysing and advising on society-environment relations. Since December 2008 I joined the faculty of the Department of Population and Health of the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.
I enrolled in a doctoral programme in the Department of Geography, University of Calgary, Canada in Fall 2011. My current doctoral thesis is informed by my desire to explore how unequal power relations affect access to environmental resources such as firewood, land, water and food. I will subsequently examine how the outcome of this power imbalance, which usually results in conflicts, impacts local integration of refugees as a durable solution to long term refugees in the Global South using Ghana as a case study.