17th May 2024

By Lara Barbara Ofori

Between May and July each year, Ghana experiences heavy rains and, as expected, this year has not been an exception.

The rainy season in Ghana has, in the last four years, been characterised by flooding in some parts of the country, with Accra and Kumasi, two of Ghana’s major cities, being the heavily affected.

Though these floods have become an annual occurrence, because of the effects that come with it, the questions we need to ask ourselves are how ready are we and what are the authorities doing about it? Will it be business as usual or we must expect something different this time around?

Flooding in Accra

When it rains in Accra and its environs, including faraway places like Koforidua in the Eastern Region, Accra becomes the receiving end as the rain water flows down south into water drains that flow into the sea. Floods in Ghana are mainly caused by our poor planning nature and the poor nature of our drainage system.

One main factor that leads to these floods is how narrow and choked the gutters that line our streets are. Since the gutters are usually filled with plastic waste and weeds, there is no easy flow of water when there is a heavy rain. As a result, the water spills over onto the streets.

Other causes of this flood is as a result of the improper planning of settlement in Accra. Some lands meant to be water ways have been sold to individuals, and these individuals have developed these lands into properties that block the water ways.

Because the passage for the water has been blocked, the water forces its way through any available space, and mostly end up in people’s homes, causing damage to lives and properties and most times restrict movement as these individuals cannot move because their compounds are flooded with rain water.

Another interesting thing is that once it gets cloudy, some people gather their refuse in anticipation to dump them in gutters so the rains take them away.

Unfortunately, this act only ends up blocking the passage of water and causes it to flow in directions that end up causing havoc. After A heavy down pour, one cannot help but find the streets littered with plastic waste which have been washed by the rain.

Effects

Floods come with nothing but negative effects. Properties worth millions are lost and some people end up being displaced as the flood takes over their homes. Sometimes, lives and livestock are lost as well.

 

The Government, for its part, has over the years spent millions of cedis to clear some water ways, including Odaw River, the biggest drain in Accra, to allow the easy flow of water into the sea.

One terrible effect we, as a country, have had of floods is the June 3 disaster of 2015 in which hundreds of lives were lost.

Measures

Though flooding has become an annual occurrence, we can find ways to prevent it, if we make the efforts.

The National Disaster Management Organisation, together with the district assemblies in the catchment area, should make it a point to embark on clean-up exercises and also de-silt the gutters and other drains to ensure easy flow of water and hygienic environment. We can only hope that this act by the authorities will help avoid any incident of flooding.

Another measure that can be put in place is for the authorities responsible to check and ensure that buildings are not constructed along water ways. If recalcitrant citizens ignore the warnings and build along water ways, the structures must be pulled down because this is the only way we can save lives and properties.

We can also play our part as citizens by avoiding throwing refuse into our gutters and ensure that we find proper way to dispose of our refuse.

The government of Ghana should consider how worse the situation gets as the years go by and find lasting solution to the flooding issue rather than always coming up with knee jerk solutions.

When this is done, it means all the huge sums of money we spend on flooding each year can be chanelled into something more profitable.

The government must take proactive measures in managing the risks and effects of floods in the country.

Floods have become an annual occurrence in our country, but we can all help avoid or limit the effects it brings by limiting the use of plastics and disposing them of properly as they almost always end up in our gutters.

The writer is a student of the Ghana Institute of Journalism

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