ADAPT | Extreme Heat in the Classroom

In close collaboration with diverse stakeholders, a transdisciplinary team from civil and architectural engineering, the social sciences and climate sciences are developing indicators of how extreme temperature and humidity impact low-income residents' physical and mental health. FAR-LeaF Fellow Dr Ebenezer Amankwaa has since January 2023 been disseminating preliminary findings of his research results to stakeholders in Ghana.

Dr Amankwaa is an urban geographer and lecturer at the Department of Geography and Resource Development at the University of Ghana. His grant funding enables him to focus on his ADAPT research project: Analyzing Dynamic Adaptation strategies of the urban Poor To extreme heat to improve well-being. He is exploring the intense heat experiences of school children in 12 schools in the Accara and Tamale regions of Ghana, by uses tiny tag sensors which record the temperature and relative humidity.

He examines the vulnerability of schools to extreme heat – and the benefits of affordable adaptation strategies. His research provides the evidence and insights needed to enable policymakers, stakeholders and urban residents to (re)design and implement effective interventions to reduce experiences of extreme heat in homes, health facilities and workplaces. The focus on modifying the built environment is directly relevant to development challenges in Ghana’s rapidly growing cities. Living and working in cooler environments would both promote economic development (as productivity would increase) and improve the welfare and comfort of urban residents, thus reducing pressures on healthcare services during extreme heat events.

The thermal comfort survey provides essential information about how school children and teachers feel when exposed to extreme heat. The data show how thermal comfort varies in differing climatic conditions and between individuals of different ages, genders and body sizes. “On average, classrooms with poor ventilation measure temperatures of 5.8 °C higher than those with better ventilation. Roofing materials that reflect solar radiation are particularly effective at reducing indoor temperatures, and tree shade has also been found to be key.”

Roofing materials that reflect solar radiation are particularly effective at reducing indoor temperatures, and tree shade has also been found to be key.

Dr Ebenezer Amankwaa in one of the classrooms in rural Ghana.

Through the ADAPT project, it is expected that the relevant stakeholders, including metro education directors, school authorities, head teachers, and teachers, will be making minor adjustments to the physical spaces where teaching and learning occur and adapting the timing and nature of their teaching and learning activities to reduce school children’s exposure and susceptibility to extreme heat.

“The enriching discussion and the network established during the dissemination of my findings are expected to benefit my research significantly, strengthen stakeholders’ engagement and facilitate the end of project dissemination activities. Stakeholders showed great interest and are keen to know about the essential findings and outcome of the project.”

Heidi Sonnekus | FAR-LeaF Program


The Future Africa Research Leader Fellowship (FAR-LeaF) is a fellowship programme, focussed on developing transdisciplinary research and leadership skills, to address the complex, inter-linked challenges of health, well-being, and environmental risks in Africa.