The Northern Development Forum (NDF), a group devoted to advancing the development of northern Ghana, has appealed to the government to accelerate processes towards the construction of the Pawlugu Multi-purpose Dam (PMD).
That, according to the group, would provide a lasting solution to the menace of perennial flooding suffered by residents of the Upper East, Upper West and Northern regions.
The plea follows a recent promise made by the Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, to construct the PMD as part of measures aimed at addressing the challenges associated with the annual spillage of the Bagre Dam after he had donated some relief items to flood victims in the north.
The Bagre Dam, located in neighbouring Burkina Faso, is spilled annually when it reaches a maximum of 235 metres depth. The exercise, however, results in annual flooding in the north.
Addressing the media in Accra yesterday, the Chairman of the NDF, Major Albert Don-Chebe (retd), said the continuous flooding in the north had, since 2010, resulted in the death of some 34 people and destroyed many properties and hundreds of hectares of farmlands.
“This project has been on the drawing board since 1964.
The PMD and similar medium-sized dams are the solution to the needless loss of lives and properties and the alarming increase in poverty in northern Ghana, as was recently revealed by the Ghana Living Standards Survey number seven of 2018,” he stated.
Aside from helping to address the food security situation in the three regions in the north, Major Don-Chebe indicated that the construction of the PMD would boost economic activities in the area by providing a reliable source of water for irrigation purposes.
According to him, although agriculture was the mainstay of the people, the absence of dams to support the irrigation of farms in the dry season had made it impossible for farmers to cultivate in commercial quantities.
“The dam will be a source of water to irrigate about 200,000 hectares of land. It will also provide alternative livelihoods for the people by developing aqua culture.
Above all, the country could generate about 70 megawatts of power,” Major Don-Chebe stated.
He lamented that “poverty in the Upper West Region is the highest in the country at 71 per cent. And, indeed, 67 per cent of all the extreme poor in Ghana are in the three regions of the north”.
Major Don-Chebe also cited the lack of infrastructure such as motorable roads, bridges, electricity and water as a contributory factor to the rising levels of poverty in the north.
He said the situation had encouraged the migration of indigenes from the area to southern Ghana because there were no job opportunities in the north.
The chairman further expressed worry at the rising cost of building materials such as cement and iron rods in the north.
“While a bag of cement costs Gh¢29 in Tema, it costs Gh¢40 in Zebilla in the Upper East Region. This means that a building in the north will cost at least 25 per cent more than the same building in Accra,” he claimed.
Major Don-Chebe, therefore, appealed to the government to introduce an intervention policy to ensure the regulation of the prices of building materials in the north.
The NDF was established in 2007 after devastating floods that hit northern Ghana in the same year.
It is aimed at championing the cause of development in the three regions of the north.
The group played a vital role in the establishment of the NDF, which has been rebranded as the Northern Development Authority (NDA).