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General News of Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

Food Shortage Predicted

A critical survey conducted by The Chronicle has revealed that the country risks a serious food shortage and a predictable looming hunger coupled with the economic setbacks in the immediate lean season.

The three Northern Regions, which are tagged the major food basket of the country and generate an estimated 45% of total agricultural produce, are undergoing serious natural disasters which are greatly affecting the agricultural sector in all spheres.

After experiencing over six months of draught this year, farms were unable to yield the desired returns. However, the late arrival of the rains, which also resulted in floods, has submerged the replanted crops destroying them completely. The opening of the Bagri Dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso worsened the situation as the White and Black Volta overflowed their banks destroying nearby farms and communities.

According to experts about 69% of leguminous and cereal farms among others were completely destroyed while an uncountable number of animals and birds were either killed or washed away. Some unscrupulous persons have also taken undue advantage of the situation by looting property and driving herds of cattle belonging to residents into neighbouring Burkina Faso in their selfish interest.

In addition, thousands of houses and other valuables have also been destroyed in areas like Sandema, Zebilla Garu, Fumbisi, Tongo, Walewale, Daboya-Overseas, Saboba/Chereponi, Tolon-Kumbungu and Pong Tamale. The cost of damage cannot presently be quantified.

Despite these disastrous circumstances faced by the affected persons, it is reported that no relief has been given, in sharp contrast to earlier claims by the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) that there had been an intervention. The roads to some of the places according to investigations are inaccessible, especially in the West Gonja District.

The victims, during a visit to some of the areas, were putting up in school blocks and churches in their communities. The woes of these persons are however likely to worsen if schools reopen and no alternative place is found since torrential rains are still being recorded across the three Northern Regions.

Meanwhile, NADMO under this current regime, The Chronicle can say is doing badly as it has failed in its mandate to provide swift and adequate interventions in cases of disaster.

Considering the level of damage caused by the rains, this paper would deem it imperative to caution or appeal to farmers, individuals, chiefs and political leaders in the North to ensure maximum food security and if possible resist exportation of food to neighboring countries.

On a more serious note, our investigations uncovered that about 92% of the disaster in all the affected communities were as a result of poor settlement of buildings. Apart from building closer to the banks of the Volta Lakes and other rivers, The Chronicle spotted that most of the communities were built without any proper planning especially without drainage systems to facilitate smooth flow of waste water and rainfall.