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Sunday, 28 June 2009

Here Comes The Rains

Picture credit: http://www.ghanaweb.biz/GHP/img/pics/50415849.jpg

This year’s rainy season appears to be in full flight as the volume of rainfall recorded by the meteorological agency is estimated to be one of the highest in Accra's history. While many see the rains as a blessing, nurturing crops planted in the fields and reducing the sweltering ambient heat, others dread the opening of the heavens for a variety of reasons. Today's post focuses on the recurrent flooding situation in the western parts of Accra.

One interesting fact is that Accra's floods has been in the news for a long time. It has been one of the major issues on various discussion boards ever since i became conscious of events going on around me in the mid-nineties. Reports from three months ago pointed to the possibility of major floods this year. On 19th June 2009, what has been touted as Accra's worst floods ever took away the lives of seven people in Kaneshie, Abosey Okai, Circle, Accra Central and surrounding areas. Although, concerned authorities are taking steps to handle the situation, their actions have not been helped with the information that the rains would fall even more, opening up possibilities of more destructive disasters. What is needed to avert future disasters of this kind is a combination of execution of currently proposed measures and some fresh thinking.

Firstly, as suggested by many commentators, the local government must be steadfast in pulling down houses and other structures that block the water ways. I suggest that the Accra Metropolitan Authority (AMA) meets with identified stakeholders to devise an appropriate strategy, through which this exercise would be carried out, so as to forestall the risk of hitting a dead end as seen in similar exercises of this nature. In order to minimise possible economic hardships that "victims" of this exercise might face, certain relief packages should be arranged for them.

Secondly, city planning authorities must take a second look at how Accra has grown, its current architectural layout and growth indicators, and come out with an appropriate development framework within which future construction projects should be carried out. During this exercise, reference should be made to older documents and white papers that were issued to adress this problem in the past, so as to emerge with the most comprehensive solution possible. Once this is done, all emphasis should be placed on execution so that Accra is rid of this headache once and for all.

A third approach, which seems quite rudimentary when closely looked at, is the need deal with the city's sanitation issues. Among one of the major causes of the floods is the filth that clog the gutters on our streets. If individuals, the AMA and waste management companies tackle the numerous plastic bags, papers, fruit peels, ice-cream cups and "take-away" containers that perennially reside in the gutters of some of our streets and major markets, water falling into such gutters would flow freely into designated sinks, rather than rising and dominating the roads and finally finding its way into peoples homes and places of public gathering.

Finally, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) should be more proactive with respect to events of this nature in the future. Considering the recurrent nature of the Accra floods and the availability of early warning signals from the meteorological agency, it is desirable that they get their acts together next time before hand in order to deal with any emergencies that may arise. Similarly, professional associations of architects, engineers and planners, as well as concerned members of the general public, should come together and deliberate on more modern and scientific approaches through which this problem could be tackled.

To conclude, Accra's flood problem would continue to rear its head in a very devastating manner from year to year if it is not tackled with the execution of ideas that have been on the table for far too long. Let's get to work!