A free app which predicts possible flooding hours before they occur has been developed for residents of Accra.
The app, known as Flash Flood Forecaster and developed by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), uses satellite data and a new generation of flood-modelling techniques to accurately predict the area and extent of possible flooding some hours before they occur, allowing residents to take appropriate actions.
It can be downloaded from Google play store.
The President of the Ghana Institution of Engineers (GhIE), Mrs Carlien Bou-Chedid, who disclosed the usefulness of the app while delivering the 48th presidential address in Accra, said it was a good early warning system.
Paving to disaster
With an increase in demand for housing and construction, particularly in urban areas, the GhIE president said places with a high proportion of paved or otherwise impermeable areas, as well as inadequate drainage were more likely to be flooded than those with large areas of pervious soils.
“Urbanisation tends to increase the proportion of impervious areas and, thus the likelihood of flooding, especially when urbanisation is unplanned and there are inadequate or non-existent drainage systems.
“In Ghana, the problems are often compounded by poor waste management practices, leading to the few drains being blocked by waste,” she said.
The GhIE had in the past said the concrete surfacing of homes instead of natural vegetation, coupled with lack of rainwater harvesting, increased the risk of floods.
Ghana’s building regulations do not permit that more than 40 per cent of a plot area should be covered, but it is hardly enforced.
Mrs Bou-Chedid said activities that led to flooding from rainfall in the country included poor land use planning and control, encroachment on waterways and flood plains, undersized drains, debris and silt in drains and buildings in waterways.
According to experts, Accra, which is sited on a low-lying area, experiences flooding annually mainly because of the haphazard construction of houses, especially on water courses, the poor drainage system and a poor waste management challenge that leads to residents turning drains into refuse dumps.
On June 3, 2015, a twin disaster from flooding and an explosion at a Goil fuel station at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange resulted in the death of more than 150 people.
In 2011, floods in the country resulted in the death of more than 30 people nationwide, with 15 victims in Accra, in addition to the destruction of property running into millions of cedis.
Similar incidents were recorded in 1968, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2010, 2013 and 2014.
While almost everybody agrees that the dumping of refuse into drains is part of the problem, opinions are divided over the resolve by the government and the city authorities to demolish buildings on water courses.
While public opinion is swayed in favour of the demolition, there are others who hold the view that the various metropolitan and municipal assemblies in the city are to blame for issuing permits or looking elsewhere while people built haphazardly.
In that regard, Mrs Bou-Chedid said it was time the country moved quickly to integrate quality management procedures into its regulatory frameworks.
“We must also recognise that man-made hazards have the potential to evolve into multi-hazard events with devastating consequences,” she said.
She commended NADMO for its efforts, including the development of flood vulnerability maps which considered population and land use, with support from the United Nations Development Programme.
The maps are for the current situation at the time and projected risk in 2050, and also provide a general overview of the areas that are prone to flooding from rainfall and can be used to assist in development planning.
The Chairman for the occasion, Mr Frank Akwaboah, said in all cases where disaster had occurred, nations, especially developing ones, including Ghana, had to use scarce financial resources to deal with the replacement of infrastructure damaged by the disaster.
“Engineers play a vital role in infrastructure delivery and it is our responsibility to contribute to finding solutions to managing risk associated with disasters,” he said.
Source: Graphic Online