Ghana Hard Hit By Flooding, Once Again


Accra — Years of delays and repeated failures to implement and improve sewage and drainage systems in Ghana's capital, Accra, has led to increasingly damaging and deadly flooding during the country's annual rainy season.
"[Ghana] hasn't make any serious arrangements in the event of a flood," said Franklin Cudjoe, director of the Accra-based IMANI think tank. "It is the epitome of neglect."
Thirty-eight-year-old Gertrude Otobia Darko was at home with her eight children and husband on the night of 3 June when her house began to flood after days of steady rainfall and then hours of heavy downpour across the city.
Trapped inside, Darko and her family shouted and waved for help, from within the pitch black room, as the rain poured in. Soon the water was about four feet high, up to her chest. Eventually some neighbours were able to break down the door to let them out.
"We were holding on to the [window] railing that broke," she told IRIN. "People carried us on their heads and took us out."
But not before the water dragged Darko's three-year-old son away. Neighbours eventually found him submerged, with water in his lungs. His rescuers wanted to take him to the hospital, but were unable to get through the water.
Days later, the child is still unwell, yet to recover from the ordeal.
An ongoing problem
Ghana usually sees an average of 221mm of rainfall each June, according to the country's Meteorological Agency. This year, an estimated 250mm of rain fell in the first three days of the month alone. It was the biggest storm in the past 20 years.
But the streets of Accra tend to flood even during times of average rainfall. In some communities, structures have been built on waterways, blocking the water-flow. Drainage and sewage systems across the city are primitive and easily overflow.
A lack of public trash bins also means that litter is often discarded without care, further choking the gutters and blocking the flow of the water.
Unfulfilled promises
For years there has been talk of the government working with development partners to install a proper drainage system that would collect the rubbish that clogs the city's streets, gutters and beaches.
But the project has yet to materialise.
According to the mayor of Accra, Alfred Oko Vandepuije, the funds have been stuck at the Ministry of Finance since April 2013. The Ministry of Finance says it has not received the loan. The US Exim Bank, which is supposed to finance the project, confirmed that no plan has been finalised.
"The government and its development partners need to work together to complete the drains," Addo said. "The plan is there and the funding has been sourced."
Now the money just needs to be disbursed.
In 2005 Ghana committed to the 10-year Hyogo Framework for Action that seeks to reduce disaster risk. The framework, which includes dredging and drainage systems in some parts of Accra, is still either incomplete or yet to begin. The duration of framework ends this year.
In 2011, the former regional minister for Greater Accra created a Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in Accra. But that too has not yet been activated.


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