Koforidua grapples with annual flooding Residents panic when the clouds gather

BY: Naa Lamiley Bentil
 This part of Abrewa Nkwanta was overtaken by the flood making human and vehicular movement very difficult
This part of Abrewa Nkwanta was overtaken by the flood making human and vehicular movement very difficult

Some few years ago, flooding was not part of the many challenges that residents and city authorities worried about.

Today, however, there is widespread panic among residents and city authorities when the clouds gather, as flooding has become an annual affair in not just Koforidua but many other towns in the Eastern Region.

The effects of climate change is already here  and so weather patterns have significantly been altered. Rains are severer and the sun more scorching.

Many Ghanaians are used to expecting the rains between May and June but a Meteorological Service Authority prediction has indicated that the country should brace itself for more downpour in the later part of this year.

As an agrarian region, people in the Eastern Region should be jubilating over this news but that is not the case.

City authorities and  officials of the Eastern Regional National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO)  are worried and so are residents, some of whom are always at the receiving end of flooding.

Perhaps Koforidua is not ready for the rains.

It has since 2012 experienced an annual onslaught of destruction as a result of flooding that sweep through the city.

Floods

Koforidua, according to the Eastern Regional NADMO officer in charge of Operations, Mr Alfred Owiredu Agyemang, experienced its first flood in 2012. The floods have been more intense each year thereafter.

Mr Agyemang said the town experienced flooding in all the years since 2012. In 2016 for instance, two people died in Koforidua during floods.

Just recently, many parts of the growing municipality were severely flooded. There was no fatality. However, the extent of damage to properties was enormous.

 Vehicles, both private and commercial, were seen floating in the water around communities, including Abrewa Nkwanta and parts of Galaway.

Other heavily affected areas included Nsukwao, where the Nsukwao River overflowed it's banks displacing hundreds of people who live in and around that part of Koforidua.

Also affected were residents of Sentimental,  Zongo,  Musuko and  Two Streams,  all suburbs of Koforidua.

Traders at the Central Business District (CBD) were not spared.

 The flood water virtually submerged the entire market, leaving items being sold, including even some in shops, floating freely in the runoffs.

According to Mr Agyemang, 1,081 persons were affected in that single flood alone.

Before then, there had been flooding on July 13, 2018 though less severe.

According to Mr Agyemang many of the victims lived downstream and close to major channels such as the Okumin River, Nsukwao River, Oyoko Stream and Asokorekuma Stream.
"All the houses along these river banks were affected.

Other suburbs, including two streams, Acapulco, Sentimental, Musco were also not spared.

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Factors

Many factors have been attributed to the annual ritual. Rising poor sanitation resulting in choked gutters, siting of buildings on water ways among others.

Additionally, the capacity of primary drains, including the Okumin and Nsukwao, which carry run-offs into the Densu River is hugely hampered because sections have not been lined.

" The fact that some are lined and other portions are not is a problem because when it rains, silt is washed from the unlined portion to the lined thereby impeding  the free flow of water", Mr Agyemang stated.



Aside the drains, some spaces especially wetlands in the city are supposed to be left fallow to absorb the rain water to quickly recede but they have been badly encroached on".

" Currently, the secondary and tertiary drains are also too small, and therefore unable to carry the volumes of rain water quickly into the primary drains.

Flooding in other districts

Even before a solution is found to flooding in Koforidua, other municipalities and districts have also become flood prone.

This year for instance, Asuogyaman, Birim Central and North, Suhum, Akyimansa, Denkyembour, Afram Plains North and South, Fanteakwa , Upper Manya Krobo and New Juaben North and South have all experienced flooding.

In Upper Manya Krobo, 28 communities according to Mr Agyemang were affected during a downpour on September 24 and 28, 2018.

In Bosuso in the Fanteakwa District, seven thatched houses collapsed .

An estimated 380 farmers lost their farms in the Akyimansa District when it got flooded recently.

Furthermore, 120  and 141 people in Birim Central and Denkyembour districts respectively were impacted during recent floods that ravaged the two communities.

Solutions

Until major drains are desilted and reconstructed,  many parts of Koforidua will continue to flood as rains show little sign of abating anytime soon.

It has been raining continuously in Koforidua and many parts of the Eastern Region for over a month now.

However, some of the major drains which are expected to carry the runoff are yet to be dredged.

Mr Agyemang called on the MMDAs to control development on wet lands to ensure that runoffs receded quickly to avoid flooding.



Drain maintenance

Undoubtedly drains; primary, secondary and tertiary play an important role in flood prevention.

and the Department of Urban Roads, the Ghana Highway and the Department of Feeder Roads all play a role by providing the infrastructure as well as maintenance.

The Eastern Regional Director of Urban Roads, Mr Kofi Nti Appiahagyei, said the department embarked on the dredging of some selected drains at the beginning of the year but said more work needed to be done to significantly reduce the annual incidence of flooding.

According to him, there was the need for all relevant stakeholders to draw a blueprint taking into consideration all the factors that cause the floods.


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