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Ghana: Another June 3 Disaster Anniversary Should be an Urgent Call For Climate Mitigation

Ghana's risk mitigation project for extreme weather events like flooding seems like an annual thing, where the government secures funding from international partners but refuses to do the work.

On April 14 and 15, Dubai witnessed chaotic flooding that halted almost all human activity – from airport business to school and work. Authorities there attributed the flooding to poor drainage and human-induced climate change.

Later that month, devasting floods started in Kenya, claiming the lives of more than 200 people according to official statistics – as almost how many lives were lost nine years ago from Ghana’s June 3 disaster.

From May 3, Brazil also experienced catastrophic floods that resulted in a counting death toll of 171 persons.

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The trends are clear – more rains and therefore more flooding this year. Scientists have already warned that the year 2024 may be far hotter than 2023, which was on record as the hottest year driven by human-caused climate change and boosted by the natural El Niño weather event.

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“Global warming from climate change means more evaporation and more moisture in the atmosphere, which means rainfall can be intensified. Recent research shows that in the future, hot, wet conditions (as opposed to hot, dry conditions) are expected to be more common. Heatwaves occurring before heavy rain will dry out the soil, making it less able to absorb water when it rains, increasing the likelihood of flooding,” said the US-based environmental advocacy group, the Environmental Development Fund.

Read Also: Prepare for More Rains in the Coming Days – Ghana Meteorological Agency Warns

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And so on the anniversary of Ghana’s June 3 disaster, it is clear there needs to be some reckoning and a proper approach to addressing the issue of floods, especially in the country’s urban centers.

“I still am not fully recovered and live in fear whenever it rains or threatens to rain. I don’t step out when the weather changes due to what happened to me 9 years ago,” said Kassim Salam one of those who survived the incident in an interview with TV3.

As we hope June 3 will not happen again (because recounting the memory and loss would not be fair to the victims), how well is the government prepared to prevent any such flooding disaster?

Recently, the local government ministry delivered drones to 17 district assemblies aimed at monitoring floods and checking those who have a bad character of depositing filth into drains.

But the rains have already started and parts of Accra have witnessed its ritual flooding. It would seem that that was an intervention too late.

Since March the government began dredging the Odaw River Basin (the main water passage that overflooded during that unfateful day of June 3, 2015, at Circle).

“The success of our flood control measures does not only rely on substantial government investments but also on the cooperation of citizens. We appeal to all Ghanaians to be mindful of their waste disposal habits and to avoid building in flood-prone area,” Works and Housing Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said.

This risk mitigation project seems like an annual thing, where the government secures funding usually from international partners such as the World Bank and more recently,  through the $200 million Greater Accra Resilient and Integrated Development (GARID) Project. But the flooding happens anyway, especially around the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange at Circle and recent rains from last month showed evidence of that.

The National Climate Change Policy drafted in 2013 points to a 40-year dataset which indicates that Ghana is constantly experiencing changes in rainfall patterns that result in flooding and storm damage. Amid different  suggestions in the policy, the government proposed to build climate-resilient infrastructure that would withstand flooding as well as “develop climate-resilient standards for key coastal infrastructure and protection of coastal communities from storm surges, coastal flooding and sea-level rise.” But most of these policies have either not seen the light of day.

Former President John Mahama, under whose tenure the June 3 disaster occurred recently promised to fix the flooding problem with engineering solutions as he is seeking to be elected again. Well, how about a proper climate solution then?

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