Act Quickly Before The Rains Fully Set In – CPD To Government

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It is early days yet, but in some major cities in Ghana especially, Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi among others, has already recorded several losses of lives and properties. This time around, not as a result of conflicts, famine or terrorism but as a result of natural disasters, notably, floods as a result of rainfall. During rainy seasons, most parts of the country that has farming (Agriculture) as their main occupation receives the seasons with much joy and happiness as they rely on rainfall for irrigation purposes, but in other parts of the country especially in the Greater Accra Region, the story over the years has been different.

 

 

Year after year, Ghana loses so many lives and properties worth billions of Ghana cedis as a result of flooding especially in most parts of the country. Many homes get destroyed and people displaced whenever flooding occurs. As a result, the government spends billions of tax payer’s money just to manage the situation thereby affecting other areas of the country’s economy that equally needs critical attention. In April 2017, Ghana had experienced a sharp alteration in its weather which resulted in widespread flooding reported in over five regions out of which four were heavily affected.

 

These floods caused a devastating impact on people’s health, safety and destruction of several properties and livelihood; farmers lost their investments in production, communities were helplessly being displaced and some infrastructure, such as roads and buildings collapsed- some of these communities are still recovering from the impacts of these floods. Over the years, successive governments have had tough times addressing the situation, yet Ghana’s capital, Accra continues to be submerged in water after some few hours of rainfall due to choked drains which do not allow for the free flow of water.

 

Some environmental experts have wondered why the government did not carry out works on the drains ahead of the rains even after the Ghana Meteorological Authority had predicted more rains this year than the country had recorded last year. Most households do not have access to safe water as a result, most water sources and sanitation facilities have been destroyed by the floods.

 

The major stakeholders in Ghana, National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) could not cope with the overwhelming needs that came about because of the floods and had to appeal for support from local stakeholders including corporate bodies and non-governmental organizations. A Ghana News agency report had revealed that the government through NADMO could only support some 2,000 victims with non-food items from their remaining contingency stock. It was found that widespread floods had affected most vulnerable communities within Greater Accra, Eastern Region, Western and Central Regions due to the unusual rains in most parts of the country.

 

Meanwhile, Greater Accra, with a population of over 4 million people, is built on an eroding coast having More than half of its population living in informal housing that coexists with skyscrapers in the beachfront city.
Since 2010, the occurrences of floods have been sporadically occurring at least 7 times in that year alone.
Floods in Ghana have been attributed to improperly planned drainage systems, poor planning of towns and cities, poor architecture, poor sanitation and a sharp increase in rainfalls to name a few.

 

 

Many have complained about government inability to construct adequate and durable culverts across the country to easily drain the water whenever it rains. Also a visit around most cities especially Accra and Kumasi will witness massive filth in the country which became rampant due to poor attitude of Ghanaians towards waste management and reduced coverage of the nation’s sanitation laws thereby slowing the pace at which authorities enforce the laws. Shoddy work has been the order of the day as the current drainage systems have not met standards. Most of these drains that have been poorly constructed, are not covered and are cited close to human activities. Many have designated waste bins just closer to culverts and drainage systems and as a result, some people, instead of dumping into those refuse, rather dump rubbish or waste into the culverts thereby stagnating the free flow of water. This has largely contributed to the flooding situation in the country.

An open drainage system choked with waste
The tricycle refuse drivers (Aboboyaa) usually dump the waste by the side of the road, since the disposal site is far. It then clogs the gutters and blocks drainages when it rains, and the floods raise the risk of water-borne diseases.

 

3rd June, 2015 – a night that brought a lot of sorrow to Ghanaian hearts saw great flooding in. Circle, a suburb of Accra. As a widely used route, a business hub and a city that had many homes saw numerous people trapped waiting for the rains to subside, businesses and other properties got destroyed. The signs were clear for all to see; from improperly planned drainage systems, that is, the Odaw drain and the Korle lagoon cited close to each other at Circle, to poor planning of the town where businesses and homes are scattered all over, the drains couldn’t flow as a result of being clogged so the water went into homes and businesses. A fire outbreak then occurred during the rains and when losses were counted, over 150 people died with many more injured and cost of repairs was well over millions of cedis.

 

CPD has learnt that authorities at the lands commission, roads and highways fail to do the needed assessment of lands properly before providing the license. In most parts of the cities, people have had their lands and buildings licensed and not properly assessed and also allow developers to build on waterways thereby blocking the flow of water.
According to a report in march 2018 – Ghana plans to formalize waste collection in slums as part of a new plan to help its crowded capital withstand climate change and disasters.
According to the local Disaster Management in the north, flooding in northern Ghana has killed at least thirty-four people. Its major cause has been the spillage of the Barge dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso.

 

 

The water spillage from the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso occurs annually and Ghana is still struggling to deal with the impact. Burkina Faso shares a border with Ghana’s
northern regions, as a result, many homes are usually flooded with most farmlands around the area destroyed whenever the dam overflows. CPD is however calling on government to declare a state of emergency on the matter since it has become a major problem affecting people especially farmers living around the area. We are calling on ECOWAS to intervene since it has to do with intra-Africa.
According to Graphic.com.gh report on 16th April 2019, The ministry of Works and Housing, had announced plans to reduce the incidents of flooding across the country through channel improvement works, Briefing the media in Accra about some of those interventions, the Sector Minister, Hon Samuel Atta Akyea said works are ongoing under the Ministry’s 2018 Flood Relief Works Program, where contracts had been awarded to contractors for concrete lining of some selected drains. In the same report the minister added that there would be reconstruction of culverts and creation of channels in areas that were not properly defined, especially in flood-prone areas ahead of the 2019 raining season,
He also assured that plans were underway to dredge and de-silt choked drains, while channel improvement works had begun on some sections of the Odaw River, which had been the major cause of flooding in some areas in Accra.
The Ministry also had renewed the dredging contract with Messrs Dredge for two years and would embark on dredging exercise at lower section of the Odaw channel from Caprice to the Outfall Sea Bridge.
He said that these plans include disposal of the dredged materials in a proper way to landfill sites, in order to prevent them from being washed back to the channel.
Checks revealed that government has allocated GH¢197 million for the control of perennial flooding in Accra. The money is allocated to the Ministry of Works and Housing, to undertake various projects and works to reduce the incidence of flooding in Accra.
Below are some recommendations CPD has identified;
CPD is calling for an attitudinal change to stop the indiscriminate dumping of refuse into drains, saying that anyone caught should be made to face the full rigorous of the law.
We are calling on the Sanitation ministry to distribute more bins to households and other places to avoid the indiscriminate dumping of refuse while calling on sanitation guards to be on the lookout for anyone who would throw rubbish about and apprehend them.

✍The government should consider constructing large culverts and maintain the existing ones to enable absurd the water whenever it rains.
✍CPD also wish to call on the government to consider putting a system in place, that will provide an announcement on early warning signs through the media and public sensitization and education on flood management. The various radio and television stations, as well as information service, should endeavour to put the public on the alert for possible occurrences so as to enable them to take precautions against flood.
We are also calling on authorities especially the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to enforce the sanitation bye-laws by removing or demolishing impeding structures that are built on waterways. This we believe will facilitate the free flow of the water whenever there is a downpour.
✍The government should consider constructing more water storage facilities such as water reservoirs and DAM to enable us to save enough water for irrigation and electricity power purposes.For instance when the government considers constructing more dams and reservoirs at the north, at every spillage of the Bagre dam , the northern parts of the country stand to benefit since they can save enough water for their irrigation instead of allowing the water to cause so much destructions on people’s farms and buildings .
There should be Proper assessment of lands and buildings before granting licenses. This could prevent building on water ways. Also stakeholders should intensify education and awareness creation on the general public of the dangers associated with building on water ways,

We are also of the view that should government consider building more closed drains instead other opened ones, it will go a long way addressing the flooding that the country has been bedeviled with over the years.

Centre for Policy development is further calling on Government to pay much attention to climate change as a result of global warming.

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