Floods never imagined, never to be forgotten
The magnitude of the floods in communities along the lower Volta Basin is simply unimaginable. They are devastating, to say the least.
The photographs seen in the print media, on television and on social media regarding the unfortunate flooding of parts of the Volta Region are not in the least exaggerating.
They are not photoshopped but real; a real catastrophe that has unfortunately befallen our country folks.
It is not a situation that one would even wish for one’s enemy. It could happen in any part of the country, in our own communities, coming maybe in another ruinous form.
Just imagine waking up one fine morning to find your home, with all its contents, submerged in water. Absolutely nothing to salvage!
So far, the empathy has been tremendous and many have been touched, looking at the magnitude of destruction caused by the spillage of excessive water from the Akosombo Dam.
Caught between the devil and the deep blue sea, the Volta River Authority (VRA) reportedly had to do what they did to save the collapse of the Dam, a national asset and a heavy reliance for the country, as far as hydropower is concerned.
However, one can conjecture that they never imagined what the level of the calamity was going to be.
It is estimated that over one thousand communities have been affected, leading to thousands of displaced families, all counting their losses.
VRA must also be counting losses including some GH¢20million unbudgeted contribution towards the rehabilitation of the communities involved.
The impact on their bottom line would be just as much, but that sometimes is the cost of doing business. It is never easy.
Studying some of the photographs depicting the magnitude of the devastation in some of the affected areas, the impact is heartbreaking, even looking at and assessing the wreckage from afar.
Infrastructures have been damaged, services are no longer available and communities are cut off. People have lost their homes and, sadly, many more have lost their businesses and their daily source of sustenance.
One learns that crop as well as fish farmers in those affected areas have had their farms washed away. It will take months, if not years for things to return to normal.
Acts of nature
Disasters of such magnitude are often caused by acts of nature. Though this one at hand is not of a natural cause, the harm done and the pain which emanates are difficult to take in.
Not only that, the health and safety implications and the psychological trauma are issues that the floods have brought. There is a humanitarian crisis at hand.
Thankfully, steps have been taken by the Ghana Health Service, the National Health Insurance Scheme, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana and many individuals to cushion.
Of temporary relief is also the responsiveness shown by the government, VRA, individuals, churches and various organisations. The support rallied behind the people, with varied supplies that could provide short-term comfort, is of value.
However, looking at the depth of the harm caused, medium to long-term measures are of equal importance. Vigorous discussions on the next steps, not only in the flooding but for any human or natural disasters that could befall us cannot be underestimated. We do not want to be taken unawares and at this magnitude scale.
If countries that rely on hydropower have been able to avert the kind of disaster that has befallen us, what is it that these countries have done or are doing right that we can steal with pride?
The fact is that we have always belittled certain possible calamities and claimed they cannot befall us. The Akosombo spillage disaster should be a lesson. The likelihood of situations taking us unawares is real.
Casting one’s mind back to the little unfortunate situations like spillage of water from the Weija Dam in Accra by the Ghana Water Company, the earth tremors experienced in recent years and bushfires, preparedness for disasters must be a priority discussion.
Then there are other potentially dangerous actions one takes as an individual, which could have disastrous effects. How many times have experts not warned about building on protruding rocks along the Weija hills?
The danger is that those rocks are gradually eroding, thus leaving houses exposed and the foundations rendered shaky.
Enough sensitisation has been done about the health dangers of building or doing regular business near electricity pylons but what does one see?
Homes, car repair garages and shops are continually being constructed because people believe spaces are meant to be occupied and nothing can happen to them.
For the current floods along the Volta basin, VRA has a lot of work to do to safeguard the survival of the Akosombo Dam as well as the surrounding environs.
With so much technological knowledge available in our world today, much more than what we had a few decades ago, time is overdue for practical engineering training to be escalated.
It brings to the fore, a much stronger focus on the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) educational shift.
The water spillage disaster on our hands now should never be allowed to happen again. The devastation so created should be behind us with the right technological interventions.