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Dam spillage: World Bank supports affected farmers with $40 million

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The World Bank through its food systems resilience programme is giving out US$40 million to support farmers who lost their livelihoods after spillage of excess water from the Akosombo and Kpong dams.

The director of communications at the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), George Ayisi, has said that nine districts in the Volta Region have been directly impacted by the Akosombo Dam spillage, displacing at least 14,000 people.

The World Bank programme is a multisectoral initiative with a budget of US$716 million whose goal is to “reduce the number of food-insecure people and strengthen the resilience of food systems.

Speaking at a presidential conference on youth in agriculture in Accra on Wednesday (18 October), the Minister of Food and Agriculture Bryan Acheampong said, the restructured programme is “to fully restore friends, brothers and families on the Volta and Eastern stretch of the Akosombo dam’s path whose farms have been wiped out due to the necessary action taken by the Volta River Authority (VRA) to save us all.”

The event was held in collaboration with the Youth Employment Agency (YEA).

So far, in collaboration with NADMO, the Volta River Authority has provided relief items, such as canned food, rice, sugar, toiletries, boats, hot meals estimated to be worth millions of Ghana cedis to the flood victims.

Additionally, the VRA is providing tanker water supply service for the impacted communities as well as potable drinking water to all victims who will need them.

“As we speak, VRA has released about GHC10 million for continued procurement of relief items; another GHC10 million will be released to support the cause,” Ayisi said.

He noted that the government has set up an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the chief of staff to address the flooding situation.

“It tells you the seriousness of the situation,” he added.

President Akufo-Addo and the committee are moving to the affected areas on Monday.

“So they are going to have a first-hand assessment of the situation. We have set up a team monitoring and coordinating the affairs, and so we are definitely up to speed on what is happening,” he said. ““Those who need to be rescued are being rescued and sent to safe havens or evacuation centers.”

He said the Ghana Armed Forces are also on the ground to help with evacuation exercise and also providing medical support.

On 15 September 2023, the Volta River Authority started a controlled spill from the Akosombo and Kpong Dams. This was due to the heavy rainfall in the Volta River catchment area, resulting in a fast rise in the water level at Akosombo Dam. The spill was, therefore, necessary to prevent the overtopping of the dam and to protect the dam’s integrity.

Relief plan

However, by the beginning of October, the water level was still rising rapidly, exceeding the maximum operating level of 276 feet. Following persistent rains and a continued rise in the water level, VRA increased the spill rate from 9 October 2023. This resulted in increased flooding in a number of communities in the North, South and Central Tongu Districts of the Volta Region, as well as Ada East District.

Since the spilling began, high level members of VRA and NADMO have been been present in the affected areas not only to assess the impact of the spill, but also to provide large quantities of relief items as well as carry out educational drives on safety in the communities. VRA and NADMO have provided and continue to provide evacuation to safe havens on higher ground for the affected victims.

The statement added that “in line with its already existing evacuation preparation plan, VRA intends to provide healthcare services as well for all the flood victims.”

For the past 13 years, VRA has been holding annual stakeholder sensitisation workshops, without fail, for all the districts of the communities that will be impacted by a spill activity or a dam break. The workshops focus on the likely impacts and what people are to do when they get the notification.

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