Until Ghanaians Begin To Think And Act Responsibly, We Cannot Bring Flooding To An End—Swift Institute
SWIFT INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY OPTIONS
STATEMENT ON FLOODS IN GHANA
Since the 1990s, the city of Accra and many other towns and villages have been experiencing flooding after major rains. In Ghana’s urban areas, like Accra and Kumasi, floods are mostly triggered by seasonal rainfall combined with poor drainage, the dumping of waste into waterways and the low elevation of settlements. In northern Ghana, some floods are caused by spillage from a dam located in Burkina Faso.
The main drainage problems facing urban cities in Ghana may be categorized into three groups namely erosion, flooding and pollution of surface waters. In simple terms, urban flooding is a natural process in which drainage systems spill over the gutters during storms. In Ghana the causes of urban flooding although diverse, are to some extent interrelated. This document seeks to investigate the extent to which municipal solid waste management systems and practice causes flooding in the rainy season in Accra.
In Accra, low-lying areas are subject to severe perennial flooding, which is generally attributed to inadequately sized culverts, and blockage of the major drains by accumulated silt caused by years of neglect, lack of maintenance and refuse dumping at unauthorized locations, said an article written by Dr. Peter A. Sam Jr.
Floods may be described as the overflow of water at a particular place due to the excessive torrential rainfall. In another instance, flooding takes place due to choked gutters, bridges, galleys and tunnels in the various towns and cities due to improper human activities.
One thing we must take note as a developing country is that until all Ghanaians begin to think and act responsibly, we cannot bring flooding to an end.
There need to a collaborative effort between the citizenry, district assemblies, and central government towards working together to find a solution to the problem of flooding.
In order to come out with the necessary solutions to flooding, we need to take a look at some of the major causative agents of flooding. If all Ghanaians can critically look at these issues with a sense of responsibility and readiness to play our various roles well, then that will mark the possibility of solving the flood problems amicably within a shortest possible time.
The major causes of floods in Ghana are:
Our attitude of throwing items and refuse anywhere mostly contribute to choking of the gutters and bridges whereby the movement of the rain water from several different places end up pushing so many things to the same directions so far as slopes and valleys are concerned. In effect the few gutters, tunnels and bridges become full of refuse and so many things will block the gutters, forcing the moving rain water out of the gutters and onto the plains and streets.
IMPROPER PLANNING, BUILDING AND MANAGEMENT OF SOME GUTTERS, SOME TUNNELS, SOME BRIDGES AND SOME ROADS.
Again, water moves best when it is moving in a straight and accessible line. The nature of our urban planning (or lack of same) is a contributory factor to the flooding. Many parts of our cities are unplanned. They develop before planning authorities think of sending roads, electricity, gutters and even pipe-born water to these communities.
The effect is that very significant proportions of our cities are towns are shanty towns, with little or no official drainage and therefore prone to flooding at the least opportunity.
BUILDING OF INFRASTRUCTURE AT UNAUTHORIZED AND FLOOD PRONE AREAS
The unfortunate fact, following quickly on the heels of poor planning, is the fact that Ghanaians often build on river banks and on water ways. It is a common sight to come on places where people have built in swamps and blocked streams and rivers in order to build homes. The unfortunate consequences.
This is problem that must be addressed by the various authorities such as Lands Commission, owners of land, and metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies. If those individuals and who buy lands anyhow and the chiefs who sell water logged lands and flood prone lands would be called to book at the law courts, all those things will stop within a very short possible time.
MISMANAGEMENT OF SOLID WASTE.
The management of Ghana’s solid waste is far from ideal. The nation lacks a credible recycling regime, with the consequences that garbage is gathered from homes and piled together in unsightly heaps at the most inconvenient places. Apart from the health risk, these garbage dumps often also flow into waterways, causing flooding.
BUILDING OF HOUSES AND INFRASTRUCTURE WITHOUT CONSULTING THE TECHNOCRATS WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR TOWN AND CITY PLANNING.
Ghanaians also often prefer to build their homes before consulting with relevant authorities. The undesired effect of this is that people often build without seeking professional advice, and turn around to complain when foreseeable misfortunes come their way.
GOVERNMENTAL TARDINESS IN FAILING TO DESILT GUTTERS AND GULLEYS AT APPROPRIATE TIMES
Finally, it has been the tradition that gutters, streams and large water bodies close to human habitations are desilted in the dry season. We know that government would claim that this is done every season, but the fact that we continue to lose human life so unnecessarily should serve as a warning that we should so more.
Additionally, those charged with maintaining roads, gutters, and potholes, or building roads, all of whose activities lead to flooding, should get their act together.
- The various assemblies should promulgate and implement laws against dumping of waste into the environment by domestic institutions.
- Again, the necessary planning authorities should get their act together to ensure that our communities are adequately planned.
- Action should be taken against individuals who build on waterways and flood prone areas.
- The Ministry of Local Government and the various assemblies should raise their game when it comes to the management of solid waste.
- Planning through enforcement with regulatory authorities should be enforced.
- Government should take the desilting of gutters and drains seriously when we are in the dry season, and the citizens can complement this effort by keeping gutters in front of their houses clean.
- Finally, families of the people who lost their loved ones in the floods should begin to exploit whether they can find an individual or regulatory agency to hold responsible for the deaths.
We believe that when people who failed in their duties, leading to the deaths, are held responsible, there would be greater accountability and care in this country.
NICHOLAS EFFAH AMPONSAH
Deputy Executive Secretary
SWIFT INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY OPTIONS