The Ghana Red Cross Society is constructing some 320 houses in 5 districts in the Northern and Upper East Regions of the country.
This is in collaboration with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Department of Rural Housing.
This became necessary as a result of severe torrential rain coupled with the opening of the Bagary dam in Burkina Faso, which resulted in most houses which were constructed of mud, collapsing.
The floods destroyed over 15,000 housing units, and displaced inhabitants sought shelter in schools and churches whilst a significant number remained on their homestead, living in partially repaired houses or makeshift shelters or accommodated by relatives and neighbours.
From the onset of the floods, the Ghana Red Cross Society responded to the needs of the people by assisting in the evacuation of the affected people and in salvaging their belongings from flood houses.
Thirty-two volunteers were trained on beneficiary registration, food and non food item distribution techniques, after which they carried out distribution of relief items including tarpaulins, sleeping mats, jerry cans, water purification tablets, bar soaps, rice, gari, cooking oil and beans.
The Society is currently supporting 320 families in the flood affected areas by ensuring house reconstruction through provision of reconstruction tool kits, shelter materials and the dissemination of simple, better building techniques for more flood resistant houses.
The criteria for beneficiary selection included those displaced and living in public facilities, those whose houses were completely destroyed, those living in areas where there is obvious scarcity of building materials and those in urgent needs of building techniques.
In the Northern Region, communities such as Daboya, Lingbisi and Disa are benefiting from a total of 107 houses, whilst 213 houses are being constructed in the Balungu and Zorko communities in the Upper East Region.
Ghana Red Cross Volunteers took community members through sensitization programmes where they familiarized themselves with the plan of building to be constructed and improved mud blocks for walls and roofing with iron sheets.
Officials of the Department of Rural Housing are supervising and monitoring the construction process.
In effect, the Society purchased and distributed 24 pieces of aluminium roofing sheets, 1 hoe, 1kg roofing nails, 2kg nails, 1 hammer, 1 saw, 7 bags of cement and roofing timber where necessary per beneficiary.
Work on the construction of these houses has been in progress since January 2008 and is scheduled to be completed by the end of April 2008.
At Sugu–Tamptia in the Savelugu –Nanton District, the GRCS in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (I.O.M) is building 25 houses for the people.
At Balungu, Mr Ayambiri Adagana, an 84-year-old blind man was full of gratitude to the Society for helping with cement blocks and roofing sheets to help reconstruct his damaged house.
The West African Flood Programme Co-ordinator of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Andreas Koumo Gopina, said although the programme was scheduled to have been completed by the end of February, progress of work had partially slowed down due to shortage of water during the dry season since the beneficiaries had to travel long distances to fetch water to mould the blocks, whilst some beneficiaries who initially promised providing timber and sand for the construction are now finding it difficult to do so.
He was however optimistic that most, if not all, houses would have been completed by the end of April 2008, and expressed his appreciation to the traditional authorities, assemblymen and volunteers of the various communities, for their high involvement in the entire reconstruction process.
Earlier, Members of the Governing Board of the Society, led by the Vice President of the Society, Mrs Hilary Gbedemah toured communities that were affected by the floods.
They inspected progress of work on the reconstruction of 320 damaged houses in Daboya, Lingbisi, Disa, and Balungu, Zorko and Sugu Tamptia, all in the Northern and Upper East Regions respectively.