The Workshop

This is short recap of the workshop we organized during our last week in Ghana. The session was an opportunity to present our efforts in a wrap-up session to all stakeholders we have met and consulted. We hope it was as inspirational and enjoyable for all attendees as it was for us. Thank you for sharing your ideas and instigating the good discussions. 

Workshop Urban Flood Risk Assessment

Date: 24-5-2016, 

Time: 9 am – 1 pm

Venue: International Water Management Insitute

Participants: Representatives from MLGRD, MESTI, MWRWH, various MMDA's, including AMA, the Hydrological Services Department, NADMO, GMet, World bank, IWMI, the Dutch Embassy, Openstreetmap Ghana, KNUST, Berenschot, Witteveen+Bos

In an opening speech, all attendees were welcomed. IWMI was especially thanked for providing a venue. The importance and purpose of the workshop was put forward as an opportunity to bring together stakeholders in Urban Drainage and share ideas on the management of stormwater in Accra. The background of the team and project was explained to create context.


Societal Challenge #1 for Accra is floods, as discussed during the World Bank City Strength Workshop. Lack of coordination between the various responsible parties in urban drainage complicates management. There is a need to for an urban drainage master plan so that activities of planning and maintenance can be coordinated.


Project flood risk Accra is introduced and presented as a smart and easy way to assess the state of the drainage system, to map out the bottlenecks and present the information in a way that can be accessed by all stakeholders involved . In a second presentation, the attendees are taken through the fieldwork experiences. Different aspects of the research were tackled such as preparations, technical and social surveys, processing data and first modelling steps.


In an attempt to show which technologies can serve to map the drainage system of Accra, student Enock presents his experiences as a volunteer mapper at OpenStreetmap Ghana and shows the benefits of an open data society. His presentation sparks a discussion about open data for public and private purposes and financial implications of sharing data. Besides open platforms, social media is an interesting tool to collect data for building a drainage model and raising awareness about clogged gutters and flood risk at the same time. The social media experiment is presented.


After the break, participants divide in four groups to discuss on 4 explicit statements meant to trigger reactions. Groups developed a common understanding of concepts through exploring the definition of the statements. There is time to debate for 15min and conclude each statement by wrapping up in 5 min. Following are the summarized findings from each discussion group that came up in the wrap-up session. 

Statement #1: ‘Clogging of gutters with waste is more of an attitude problem than a financial constraint’


Attitude is underlying the financial constraint. A bad attitude towards waste disposal is triggered by the financial constraint, but also lack of enforcement, education and community engagement. Poor planning pronounces attitude issues. Lack of access to waste collection services provokes bad attitude. There is not enough capacity.


Statement #2: 'If all gutters in Accra would be clean, floods would no longer occur’


No/Maybe. Cleaning gutters will minimize flooding, but there are other more important factors such as unplanned settlements and uncontrolled developments, the low capacity of the existing system, limited water retention. Poor monitoring services. Encroachment of Buffer zones along waterways and retention. No enforcement of the laws regarding waste management.


Statement #3:  ‘A shared technical database is needed to coordinate urban drainage management issues’


Data is scattered among public and private institutions. For public purposes, information should be free. Creating the database in itself is a problem. Open data should be encouraged, but making data it completely free can be financially complicated. Open data enhances innovation, but there should be a mechanism of coordination/institutions that controls the data put in place, Perhaps a Sustainability token (GHC 1-5) payment system for researches can be put in place. 


Statement #4: ‘The traditional (conventional) way of drainage in Accra is the future way of drainage’ (group conclusions diverge)

  1. No. Drainage management should be planned using an integrated approach. Land-use systems should be re-evaluated and enforcement is important in that regard. 
  2. Adapt SUDS to local context. Evaluate the solutions first. Does it work here? Reviewing Building Codes for retention guidelines. Creating a sustainable policy direction. Lack of institutional coordination for maintenance of traditional drains. Employ construction of retention basin upstream.
  3. No. Sustainable is the future. Modification before urbanization. What can we do to restore the existing urban landscape? Create parks at Schools. Plant trees along river channels. Expand open channels. Reclaiming land in vulnerable areas.
  4. Not everywhere. In existing neighborhoods it is difficult to adopt SUDS. We need a long term vision for Accra in 20 years. 

The workshop was used as a platform for the young and ambitious to present their visions. Statement 4 was introduced by Kofi’s presentation, which featured a green future of Accra. He discussed how Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) can be implemented in order to reduce the flood risk of the city. His visionary speech resonated well with the attendees.  


The project team was able to get input on how to assess the state of the urban drainage system. The dynamics of the drainage system that affect the high flood risk were explored in group discussions, as well as in which way to organize and plan for a well/ drained future of Accra.

Comments: 1 (Discussion closed)
  • #1

    Marc (Friday, 27 May 2016 01:06)

    Great work guys.Thank you for the effort,time and commitment to changing the lives of so many Ghanaian people.I know it hasn't been easy but i know its worth it and you enjoyed every second of this great adventure.Your efforts may be little but i believe its just a step in the right direction.The start of greater things.all the best in your future endeavors and see you soon .Ghanfuo daaasi.Memawo ayeeekooo