Today we were on a mission! To speak to as many stakeholders as we could in one day. This mission was made possible by one incredibly determined man: mr. Frank Annor, lecturer at KNUST, PhD student at TU Delft, ceo of the TAHMO project, and also our project supervisor here.
The day was a series of formal introductions at the different relevant stakeholders od urban drainage in Accra. We drove to the offices of NADMO (National Disaster Management Organisation) first, to speak to Dr. Kingsford Asamoah and Philip Mantey. They had to leave for a meeting with UNDP, but in Ghana everybody has 30min to talk to you. We learned a lot about their current disaster responses and programs that are in development, such as warning messaging using mobile phones and building community resilience through placement of NADMO representatives down to the community level. Dr. Kingsford reflected on our project and confirmed that the dynamics of the state of the drainage system is the only variable which is not covered in assessing flood risk in the city. And they need to fill this information gap. "We need to map the drainage system and come up with some sort of classification", stresses Dr. Kingsford.
At the Ghana meteorological agency (Gmet) we met Captain Stephen Komla, who was so kind to to find some for us in his busy schedule ( actually this was the case for all the officials we spoke to today, very busy (wo)men !). We asked him about communication channels of the agency in case of large rain events and whether there exist rainfall thresholds which lead to flooding in the city of Accra. Captain Komla summarizes the situation; "There is no natural cause of floods in Accra, we are the cause, the humans. We are living in the flood plains, we are dumping garbage in the drains, so where does the water go? It goes into our houses." Human activities and Lack of coordination were the key words that came up in our discussions. In addition, the cause of flooding depends of the time of the year, what civil works are going on, and the intensity of the rainfall.
Sylvester Darko from the hydrological services department (HSD, in charge of planning, construction and maintenance of the primary drainage system) states that the city of Accra is a time-bomb. The flood events of Accra last June are just the tip of the ice berg. There is no cooperation between the agencies involved in flood management at different governmental levels. Municipal assemblies are divided, have their own master plan and do their own thing, which complicates coordination. In addition, the problems with urban drainage lie in the attitude of people, but then again, you also can not blame them if you don't provide service for waste management. Many steps are needed to be taken before Accra can arrive at a coordinated and sustained approach to floods. He urged us to think about the benefits of flood as well, retaining the flood water and using it for drought management.
At the IWMI ( international water management institute), we were lucky meet the head of the West Africa office, Dr. Olufunke Cofie. She was very interested to hear about our research and whether we can identify information gaps, so they could possibly set-up a research on urban flooding given the relevance of the topics. Dr. Marloes Mul, former lecturer at Unesco-IHE, current senior researcher hydrology and water resources at IWMI shared some of her observations on urban drainage and her own struggles with getting waste management services living in Ghana for the last 3 years.
What a fruitful day! Thanks again to mr. Frank Annor and mr. Maxwell Boateng-Gyimah of Global Water Partnership for making this day at the offices possible.