It’s that time of the year again – dry air, dry skin, dry everything! And a lot of dust. Hello to harmattan season in Ghana!
In West Africa that occurs between the end of November and the middle of March. The winds from the Sahara desert reach West Africa and it’s important to know some tips to deal with harmattan in Ghana, especially for those who have never experienced such an event before. Before we get into the “negatives” of harmattan, let’s share some reason of why you should be happy about harmattan.
Good things about Harmattan
- Better food preservation. During harmattan, food doesn’t get spoiled so easily.
- Your laundry will dry faster! You know those times you’ve had to cancel an outing because your chosen outfit is dirty Well, you don’t have an excuse anymore. You can wash your clothes and trust the harmattan to make it dry quickly. So no more excuses.
- You will sweat less!
- Reduces mosquitoes, as the weather is not as hot and humid
- Atmosphere can be more pleasant as it can dim the sunlight
For the local people it’s something very easy to deal with, they are used to it and know how to protect themselves. For expats, it could be a hard experience but there is always something you can do to minimize the effect of the dust winds. The harmattan weather by its nature is harsh, and with this harshness comes some adverse effects.
Here are some things you should use to protect yourself and your health during this season.
It is always advised to stay hydrated and to drink a minimum 1,5/2 L of water per day. During harmattan it is even more advisable. You may not sweat as much but always remember to drink your water.
Try to avoid sugary drinks and consume more fruits (which are also rich in water, such as pineapple or watermelon for example). Drinking enough water helps keep the skin smooth and also reduces stress.
Adjust your outfits
Changing your whole wardrobe to autumn clothing is of course not the solution! But having a few layers to throw on when it gets a little colder would be advisable. Throw on a pair of jeans and layer a T-shirt under a sweater and don’t forget your dust resistant glasses.
Suffer from asthma? Keep your medication close!
This season is not the best if you suffer from asthma. The atmosphere tends to get very dusty and this can affect breathing and bring other health problems.
If you suffer from asthma, always bring your inhaler with you or any other necessary medication. It can also cause dried out and irritated nasal passages so it is also advisable to carry a nasal spray or pomade you can apply to hydrate the nasal passages. Of course try to avoid dusty areas as much as possible.
Keep your immune system strong – vitamin C
Harmattan mornings can be quite cold – 9°C (48°F), but afternoons have recorded temperatures of up to 30°C (86°F). These drastic changes in temperature, alongside the dust, can make us more prone to catching a flu or a cold. For this reason it is advisable to have a rich diet in vitamins or take vitamin C supplements.
Moisturise – Hand, Hair & Body
Making sure you hydrate your skin, this includes your lips, your face and your body, as well as your hair, is very important to avoid cracked lips and dry skin. Products such as locally made shea butter (highly utilised for centuries in Ghana) is a very good solution.
Shea butter doesn’t obstruct the pores, what it does rather is create a thin protective layer on your skin which will help protect you from things such as dust, as well as sun. Regular showers are also recommended.
Watch out for fire outbreaks
Fire outbreaks are usually common during harmattan and the reason is not far-fetched: the dry atmosphere aids rapid spread of fire. The simple way of staying safe during such a period is to be more conscious of possible causes of fire outbreaks.
Every season comes with its own challenges. In Ghana, especially in Accra, harmattan doesn’t bring cold weather, sometimes it’s just a couple of weeks with fogginess and more humidity than usual. But for those who like to take pictures, harmattan and its colors can provide beautiful photos.
How to enjoy Harmattan in Ghana
The pool at Green Views is the perfect place for refreshment after a harmattan day. Green Views has taken into the consideration the weather in Accra so we have big and shady balconies, cross ventilation and a nice pool with wonderful garden for you to take a swim, in the big pool, or just to relax and read a book close to the pool in our green garden.