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Opinions of Sunday, 26 June 2016

Columnist: Anokye, Kofi

A practical solution to flooding in Ghana from an engineer

LET'S INTRODUCE COMMUNITY CATCHMENT AREAS TO CURB FLOODING AND ENHANCE ACCESS TO WATER

My desire to find lasting solution to the perennial flooding of our cities and towns was taken to another level by the June 3rd 2015 disaster. Since that same period, I have seen the government in conjunction with the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies embark on various gutter cleaning exercises with the hope of solving the problem. Much focus was placed on the big gutters that enter the sea.
The hope was that once there is a smooth passage of water through these gutters, the water quickly travel through when it is raining and thereby preventing a repeat of flood.
As effective as this exercise was, the recent flood that resulted from just over 4 hours of downpour attest to the fact that we need to look beyond distilling our gutters if we don’t want to experience more flooding situations
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I always knew that it will take more than cleaning gutters to effectively deal with the problem.
It is against this background that I write this article suggesting the way forward as usual.
I have observed that most of the streams and rivers in Accra which is the most vulnerable part of the country as far as flooding is concerned enter the sea directly. Geographically, the southern sector of Ghana is the lowest part of the country in relation to the sea level. Accra for instance is just 61 meters above sea level. Being a low and predominantly land, the speed of water movement is extremely slow and therefore impedes the rate of disposal into the sea and various disposal points. It is this slow movement of water that causes the gutters to overflow when it rains.
The second observation I have made is that rain water travel a long distance before it reaches the final destination. In view of this, the water, depending on the volume destroys everything along it path that is not strong enough to withstand the force of the rushing water.
The third observation I made which is well known to everyone in this Country is the fact that people have deliberately built their house in water way. When water is prevented from plying its natural passage and an artificial path is no created, it finds one for itself with little care about what goes along with it. I find this practice very ridiculous given the fact that most of these houses have been given permit by the various Assemblies
The way forward
The simple solution to this deadly problem is to construct community catchment areas to hold some of the volume of water when it rains. Naturally, most of these sites were existent as parts of God’s design but human activities have destroyed them and the result is what we see.
In view of this, we have to identify the lowest area on each suburb, excavate these areas deeply and widely, plant trees and grass around them and then channel overflow to join the main streams.
This will not only go to reduce the volume of water flowing from each suburb to join the already full gutters but can also be a source of water which could be treated for use by the community.
Thankfully, every community in this country has a low land which usually becomes the disposal point for excess water. Nature was complete and perfect in its creation. Let's our actions and inactions be guided by what is around us without which we face serious life challenges such as what we see today,
Some houses will be demolished but the cost of doing that will be nothing compared to the gains in curbing the flood situations and providing access to water for our communities.

As I have said, my doors are always opened to authorities if they want further discussions on how we can solve some of the problems my articles purport to find answers to. Very soon, I will be opening the African Centre for Ideas and Innovations.
This Think Tank will provide practical solution to some of the problems confronting us as a people and engage the necessary authorities on how to solve them provided their doors will be opened to us. Additionally, we will give people with various ideas the platform to engage state actors and investors to enable their ideas see the light of day.
As a jurisprudence mind, I have always maintained that the solutions to the problems confronting us lie within us as a people.

With critical think, we can solve most of our problems.

Kofi Anokye-CEO
Koans Building Solutions