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01 August 2017

After 7 days: Tamale flood victims get relief items

Deputy Director of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Abu Ramadan, says residents of Tamale will get some respite Tuesday as truckloads of relief items head to the Northern Region capital.

The flood victims will be securing this state assistance seven days after torrential rains led to flooding in areas such as Sanerigu, Gushegu, Sabooba North, Nanumba, Kariga, and Cherponi.

Affected residents in these communities have been left stranded to fend for themselves. Some victims had been sleeping in open spaces.

There was a health alert as some residents had to defecate in the open because rushing waters swept away the homes and places of convenience.

Tamale flood: Public health risk as some residents resort to open defecation

Mr. Ramadan explains NADMO had to surmount some financial constraints to successfully bring relief to residents, perhaps explaining the delay in sending the relief items to the region.

“It’s not been easy putting items together, but as I am talking to you currently, the relief items are en route to the Northern Region,” Mr. Ramadam told Joy News.

Inaccessible towns

The floods on Tuesday, July 25, 2017, did not only destroy millions of properties, livestock, farmlands as well as human lives, it also rendered the entire eastern corridor stretch linking the north to the southern part of Ghana inaccessible.

Abu Ramadan told Joy News barring challenges in accessing the affected towns, the relief items, which include mattresses, blankets, portable water and bags of rice, should get Tamale for onward distribution on Tuesday dawn.

‘Only’ 38,000 allocated

Following delays in sending the relief items to the more than 3,000 affected victims, it came to light that the cause of the delay was because of inadequate funds allocation.

The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Works and Housing Committee, Samson Ahi, revealed that there was no money to purchase relief items for the victims of the floods.

He said “only GH₵38,000 [has been allocated] to tackle flood in the whole country”, a revelation that dampens hope for any credible relief effort.

Climate change

Climate Adaptation and Resilience Specialist, Dr Bob Offei Manteaw, has since urged Government to commit to Climate Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction by implementing policies and strategies that would build community resilience, urging the country to take climate change and its associated disasters seriously.                                           

Dr. Manteaw who is with the Africa Resilience Collaborative made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra last week Wednesday.

He appealed to the Government to begin the implementation of climate change policies and strategies to help people, communities, and institutions build their adaptive and resilience capacities.

Talking specifically about the Tamale floods, Dr. Manteaw warned that the occurrence was climate change-induced, adding that, more of them were to be expected across the country.

He called for collaborative efforts to address the challenges of climate change.

“The Government has initiated some works on climate change, no doubt, but it needs to do more. Policies and strategies need to be moved from shelves in the ministries and into local communities where climate impacts actually happen.

“Currently in Ghana not many people seem to be aware of climate change or even understand what risks or impacts it brings to them,” he said.

Dr. Manteaw said the Tamale flood event and the associated loss of lives and property was unfortunate and should prompt more focused and concerted actions not only from government but other stakeholders to avoid future occurrence.

“These floods are neither new nor isolated cases.  They are almost pervasive now as most parts of the world, including Ghana, have been experiencing such extreme floods and very frequently.

“As with the situation in Tamale, when these events happen all we talk about is how unprecedented they are. We then count our losses and forget about them when the floods subside and wait for the next record-breaking one.”

According to him, Ghana has failed to even acknowledge the reality of climate change and the role they play in such record-braking disasters.

“Ghana and Africa as a whole need to embrace a new mindset that climate change is a reality and to begin to build resilience. There is the need to put in place proactive and anticipatory measures to facilitate adaptation and resilience building.”

Dr. Manteaw said: “There is no indication that people living in their different communities across the country have any awareness or understanding of issues around climate change and disasters and how these could impact their lives.”

He said climate change was a collective problem and required collective responses, adding: “All stakeholders, individuals, communities, businesses, multi-level governments, agencies, schools… need to work together.

“Not a lot of these different stakeholders have a real sense of what climate change could mean to them and the need to take action.”

Dr. Manteaw said there was the need to initiate and intensify climate change awareness, education, and learning.

He said people need to know about climate change as an emergent reality and to understand its manifestation and this was not an issue just for the schools but all stakeholders need to begin to learn about climate change and to build resilience.

“Apart from the loss of lives and property, the cost of disruptions, no matter how short, brings tremendous impact to development processes,” he said.

Dr Manteaw called for new approaches to address climate change and disaster risk issues at the community level.

He is of the view that the stakeholder pool the needs to be widened and businesses, especially in the private sector, should show leadership.

According to him “Climate risks are business risks” and that all businesses, big or small, should be mindful of the risks that climate impacts could bring to them.

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