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How long can Ghanaians bear the brunt of floods?

Tue, 6 Oct 2020 Source: Bright Philip Donkor

Undoubtedly, flooding is one of the global natural disasters with the most debilitating effects on both humans and other things alike. It's the leading and most frequent cause of natural disaster fatalities worldwide. It's become such a global concern that developed and developing countries give much attention to it in finding ways of mitigating, if not preventing its effects.

In Ghana, when there's a heavy downpour around this time of the year, it is not only places or communities that get flooded, the media space too gets flooded with stories about how properties are destroyed, people are displaced and lives are maimed and lost.

Honestly, it has become a boring chore writing flood stories because no matter the number of stories written, the situation still persists year after year. The frequent occurrences and catastrophic consequences of floods can be curbed but not completely avoided.

It is therefore, no wonder that some communities in the West Mamprusi district of the North East Region on Wednesday, experienced another flood following the downpour from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning. In the midst of the heavy downpour that morning, two dams burst separately at Dimia and Guabluga. This led to properties been washed away running into several millions of Ghana cedis.

Over the years, I have had different reactions to flooding every time social media erupts with pictures and videos of the chaos it leaves in its wake. These reactions have ranged from anger, shock, desperation and other such negative emotions, until this very one. Looking at images from this recent flooding, my reaction was, "How long can Ghanaians bear the brunt of Floods?

I believe that, it's high time proactive and collaborative measures are instituted. There's still time to provide temporal and lasting solution promised. It would be urgent and appropriate to do it and save lives and property than to save money and lose precious lives.

As already known, the floods often result in significant damage to private property, including homes and businesses. Losses occur due to damage to both structure and content of buildings. In worse situations, most floods impact human populations in terms of mortality, injury and displacement every year.

Do we totally blame floods on climate change? It is the result of city planning or the lack thereof and urban development. Why not we propose a radical approach in nipping this problem in the bud? It has persisted over the years and is a killer of Ghanaians.

There are numerous contributory factors responsible for floods. You do not have to study rocket science to know. For example, we build in areas that are supposed to be basins and waterways. We construct roads (using deplorable ingredients) that have poor drainage systems. We dump waste indiscriminately. The lack of vegetation, groundwater flooding, blockages and dam spillages are other ways a flood can occur. We refuse to have greenery, technically speaking blue and green spaces. We have improper planning; hence the water cannot move on to a designated location.

Lives lost cannot be restored, so there's need to educate the public about the reasons and causes of the flooding. It is paramount to sensitise the people. There's the need to create a new mindset for the people. This will make people conscious about their environment and the possibility of flooding.

The city or town planners should be conscious at avoiding the potential disaster looming. In times like this, rainfall is inevitable. It'll certainly rain and it'll go somewhere so you have to make sure that there's proper planning in place. Have you thought about the obvious occurrence of floods every year? It is because we don't have an avoidance plan.

The damage has already been done but we should be looking towards a plan with a vision for generations to come. It's all about the people - Ghanaians. A long term plan, not two years or three years, and we should be thinking about how we want our city to look like in the not so distant future.

That notwithstanding, the role of the Government and its agencies like National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the various Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies should provide the needed resources for the implementation of the essential structural and some non-structural flood control measures to avert the consequences of floods from haunting us.

Unfortunately, close to seven hundred residents in West Mamprusi district are stranded today. The 'culture' of every issue being refracted with partisan lenses is not the way to go. We must not allow politics to poison our thinking gadgets. Floods do not discriminate along the lines of political affiliation, ethnicity, social status and any of the trivial differences we use to tout our superiority over our fellow citizens. The rich, poor, adults, children, NPP or NDC members are susceptible. We must train ourselves to speak freely from our minds regarding issues of societal concern without any political attachment.

I think that the flooding is exposing our pretentiousness and serving as a constant reminder that a comprehensive solution is needed; a solution which goes beyond the usual knee jerk demolition of structures belonging to some of our most vulnerable citizens.

The problem of floods in a way, is like a giant mirror that reveals our character and attitude to ourselves. It reminds us that by simply erecting expensive billboards and other monuments, and making of lofty political promises, we don't get to contribute in making life more dignifying and comfortable for the people as well as maintaining and safeguarding the country's human resource capital.

The author, Bright Philip Donkor is the CSA'20 Online Journalist of the Year; a Young Activist, Social Commentator, Columnist and a Prolific Feature Writer.

Email- bpdonkor@gmail.com

Columnist: Bright Philip Donkor