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Major floods hit northern Ghana, killing at least 34 people and leaving 100 000 homeless


At least 34 people have been killed and 2 are still missing after heavy rains combined with waters spilling from a dam in Burkina Faso flooded parts of northern Ghana this month. The floods caused widespread damage to agriculture, roads and other infrastructure and left as many as 100 000 people homeless.

According to a statement released by Ghana's National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) on September 20, at least 34 people have been killed in Upper West, Upper East and Northern regions this month and as many as 100 000 people have been displaced.

The flooding was largely caused by overflowing White Volta River after heavy rains and water release from Bagre Dam, located on the same river across the border in Burkina Faso, some 30 km (18.6 miles) from Ghana.

NADMO said that water in the dam rose by about 80% in the month of August, as compared to 50% in August 2017. 

The release of water started in late August but the rate increased in early September, worsening the already bad flooding situation.

"In all, we have on record 34 deaths and two people missing. The affected people are over 52,000 and we are still assessing the situation," said Seji Saji, NADMO's deputy head.

"All these happened during the time that the river overflowed its banks but the rate of spillage has reduced considerably and fortunately since last week and this week there has not been any heavy rainfall," he said.

Security analyst Adam Bonah has called for the immediate declaration of a 'state of emergency' in the northern regions following the devastating twin occurrence of the spillage of the dam and weeks of torrential downpour.

"This thing has been going on for how many weeks? The state of emergency should have been declared by now. ECOWAS should have been brought in because it has to do with intra-Africa, where you have water spillage from a neighboring country into another neighboring country."

Civil society groups in the agriculture value-chain have expressed concern over the perennial flooding in northern parts of the country, warning that the situation threatens Ghana’s food security.

"Annually, thousands of hectares of farmlands and a variety of crops and livestock are destroyed through flooding," farmer-based groups said in a joint statement.

The effect of these floods is huge and diverse and well known, they said.

"These floods, however, are man-made, self-made and preventable. These floods destroy farmlands and displace farmers which may affect food production. The perennial flooding and the havoc is also caused by the spillage of the Bagre Dam in nearby Burkina Faso. The devastation caused by the spillage is having a negative impact on the livelihood of the people in the downstream who are predominantly smallholder farmers in Ghana."

Featured image: Bagre Dam, Burkina Faso


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