Finance Ministry pledges resources for dam spillage victims
The Ministry of Finance has pledged its readiness to find the resources to support the victims of the Akosombo and Kpong dam spillage in the Volta, Eastern and Greater Accra regions.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, who made the pledge, said the government, working with stakeholders, would identify the real immediate needs of the flood victims and use the 2024 Budget to address them.
He said the ministry empathised with the pain of the people and would support every effort to bring relief to all the affected.
He said irrespective of the Inter-Ministerial Committee’s work, it was important that the ministry, which was responsible for managing the finances of the country, move to location for firsthand information.
“We have seen people go through various challenges, water sources contamination and farms are gone, and we need to get people back on their feet,” Mr Ofori-Atta said at Battor in the North Tongu District last Friday.
This was when he led a team from the ministry to present relief items worth GH¢2 million to the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) for distribution to the victims.
Staff of the ministry also presented a cash donation of GH¢50,000 to aid the Relief Support Committee set up by the Volta River Authority (VRA), managers of the Akosombo and Kpong hydroelectric dams.
It is towards the provision of medical supplies and any other assistance that the victims may require.
Presently, NADMO has put the number of displaced persons at 39,133 out of which the North Tongu District holds the highest number of affected persons.
Of the data, officials say 129 people with disability have been impacted heavily.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the disaster was climate change-related which, he said, was on the rise globally and that the government was revising its budget to reflect climate indicators and institutionalise support for mitigating their impact.
“As you look at the issue of climate change and its impacts, budgets have to be moving in that direction and this issue will be approached in that way, as we look at issues of relocation and reclamation of farms and cages of fish farming,” the Finance Minister stated.
He recountered that last year, President Akufo-Addo and the German Chancellor discussed the initiatives and how to trigger resources as soon as an incident of this nature occurred.
“So far, we have been able to secure $270 million in German support and these are the kinds of support that we are able to deliver through our development partners," Ofori-Atta said.
The Finance Minister explained that whereas the VRA had in place an elaborate emergency preparedness plan owing to a similar occurrence in 2012, the rise in the rainfall pattern this year saw the initial level of water of 20,000 cubic feet projected to be spilled being adjusted upwards to 180,000 cubic feet.
“As far as I know, when they calculated, they felt 20,000 cubic feet of spillage could be adequate but when the rains came, they moved to 180,000 cubic feet and this is the situation we found ourselves in,” the minister recounted.
Mr Ofori-Atta said whereas officials had anticipated heavy rains which informed a simulation exercise to be carried out, the situation had been worse than anticipated.
The Finance Minister said that the Relief Committee set up by NADMO which had relevant stakeholders, including chiefs on board, were mechanisms that the ministry hoped would provide them with the appropriate information to enable them to adjust their programmes as and when necessary.
The Manklalo of Mepe, Togbe Kosi Nego VI, in his remarks, said that whereas the disaster had struck nearly half of the population of the community, the distribution of relief support had been focused on the camps.
He said out of 25,000 packs of water that had been distributed by the traditional leaders to affected persons who were not in the holding shelters, only 6,500 had come from the government’s relief support.
“We have received numerous promises from government officials by way of provision of food items, however, not much has come yet,” Togbe Nego said.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, commended the minister and his team for the visit and the minister's promise to consider the affected persons in the national budget.
He said that the resettlement of the victims was the biggest headache, especially considering how children had been dislodged and their academic work affected.
"These children will be writing the same examination as those in urban centres, and our wish is that they will be settled in time so they can catch up on lessons," Mr Ablakwa said.
The MP reiterated that the community and the victims would not compromise on their demands for compensation.
"I hope to work with VRA to ensure that the victims are properly settled," Mr Ablakwa said.