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Accra Flood Prevention: $675m Needed for Odaw Project

A $200 million initiative known as the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development (GARID) project is currently underway to tackle the persistent flooding issues in Accra and provide relief for approximately a decade.

Accra needs a significant investment of at least $675 million to strengthen flood defences along the Odaw Basin and mitigate the city’s persistent flooding issues.

This funding will be used for land acquisition, resettlement, construction expenses, contingency funds and waste management services.

These initiatives aim to establish a robust drainage ecosystem capable of withstanding flood events that typically occur once every 25 years (T25).

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A $200 million initiative known as the Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development (GARID) project is currently underway to tackle the persistent flooding issues in Accra and provide relief for approximately a decade.

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As part of this project, efforts are focused on redesigning drains, removing obstructing materials and introducing a performance-based dredging program aimed at enhancing drainage systems within the Odaw Basin.

The goal of the project is to establish flood protection measures capable of withstanding events that happen once every 10 years. However, Dr. Kwadwo Ohene Sarfoh, the Coordinator of the GARID project, emphasized the importance of aiming for a more resilient infrastructure. He suggested that to effectively safeguard against flooding in the capital city in the long term, it’s crucial to strive for a flood protection regime designed to withstand events occurring once every 35 years.

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“A more resilient city would mean investing in a flood protection regime that is able to contain greater volumes of water and whose likelihood of occurrence will be one in every 25 years,” he told the media

The GARID project, spanning five years, was initiated by the government in collaboration with funding support from the World Bank. It forms a crucial component of the Greater Accra Climate Risk Mitigation Strategy, aiming to enhance resilience against the recurring flooding challenges faced by the capital city.

The GARID project was initiated in response to the devastating flood disaster in Accra on June 3, 2015, which tragically took nearly 200 lives and caused an estimated $100 million in damages.

Collaboratively led by the World Bank and the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO), this initiative aims to address flood risk in the Odaw Basin through targeted drainage interventions. The project’s goal is to enhance the Odaw drain system and mitigate flooding in the city, building resilience against future disasters.

Dr. Sarfo highlighted the diverse interventions underway along the Odaw Basin through the GARID project. These include establishing retention ponds, dredging the Odaw River, widening drains, and clearing obstructive structures.

Additionally, a social awareness campaign aims to shift attitudes towards solid waste management. Collaborating with state agencies like the Ghana Meteorological Agency, Ghana Hydrological Authority, NADMO, and Water Resources Commission, the project is also developing an early warning system for flood risk management.

Dr. Sarfo emphasized the need for a broader dialogue among the government and stakeholders to address the severity of future flood events. While the ongoing interventions aim to reduce flooding in the capital city, he stressed the importance of considering a drainage infrastructure capable of withstanding more severe floods. Despite the current focus on managing one in 10 years flood events through the GARID project, Dr. Sarfo highlighted the necessity of examining the larger context, particularly with factors like climate change and urbanization impacting drainage infrastructure resilience.

“But imagine the current state and the number of encumbrances on each side and how much you will displace in order to provide that level of protection, plus the cost of that displacement,” he said.

The GARID coordinator stressed that there was the need to have a bigger conversation about those who were living along the Odaw drain, whether legitimately or illegitimately.

“The conversation will have to see how to deal with such people so as to deal with the effects such flood protection measure will bring on them,” he said. Dr Sarfoh said the 2015 flood event, which recorded rains of about 137 millimetres over a six-hour span and was characterised as a one-in-10 years event, was a wake-up call for the country to prepare for extreme occurrences.

“A one in 25 years flood event might double what was recorded in 2015 in terms of the volume or the duration of the rain. We need to prepare and put the needed infrastructure and systems in place for this,” he said.

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