The Volta River Authority (VRA) has said it undertook intensive simulation exercises with communities which were to be affected by the dam spillage months before it opened the dam.
According to the VRA, over the past 10 years, it has consistently engaged communities on emergency response, provided training and made resources available to various agencies to facilitate support when the need arises. This year was no different and in May 2023, VRA engaged the various communities on preparedness.
The VRA cloaked with the mandate of maintaining the largest man made lake in the world and ensuring the integrity of one of the most powerful dams has an enormous task in securing and providing the electricity needs of Ghana and the support system of the people who live within its catchment area.
Controlled spills are a necessary way of maintaining the integrity of the dam for the nation to continue to enjoy consistent electricity supply. These activities cause flooding from time to time and VRA, as part of its responsibilities in protecting lives and livelihoods, provide community engagements, training and support system for when these floods occur.
These workshops focused on the likely impacts and what people are to do when they get the notification of a dam break or spill.
Before the decision to spill, VRA held a simulation exercise dubbed “Exercise Da Wo Ho So 2023” in May 2023 to help ensure that all relevant stakeholders were prepared for a flood-related event. The exercise tested the emergency response procedures and capabilities of relevant stakeholders, and lessons from the exercise were noted to improve response preparedness.
Understanding the importance of this simulation, the chief director of the Ministry of the Interior , Adelaide Anno-Kumi and a delegation from the US Embassy, North Dakota National Guards, were invited to provide technical support and help to create a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan with all the necessary stakeholders, these included NADMO, Ghana Police Service, Ghana Navy, Armed Forces, Ambulance Service, Fire Service and Planning Officers and the District Chief Executives Hon. Divine Osborne Fenu, Hon Sarah Pobee and some traditional rulers.
The simulation exercise was conducted, concurrently at the three (3) District Assemblies namely Asuogyaman, Ada East and North Tongu while complementary simulations took place in the six remaining districts. The main objective was to “Test response to (excessive) spillage of 5,000 to 10,000 m3/s of water from the Akosombo dam resulting in extensive flooding of downstream districts.”
There was a dry- run from the the established National and District Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) to test the emergency communication channels ,and important information regarding the exercise was also relayed to the relevant relief agency personnel.
The people in the communities were taken through training on how to evacuate their homes, first aid and safety responses for early warning and notification.
They also worked with the relief agency personnel on the process of search and rescue of trapped victims in flooded areas due to the potential spillage.
There was also a simulation of the evacuation of trapped victims from communities that risk total flooding to planned safe havens.
Mepe was identified as one of the communities with high exposure to flooding . Therefore an EOC was setup within Mepe with their District Chief Executive, Hon. Divine Osborne Fenu at the helm of the simulation exercise. Relief Agency Personnel from the simulation exercise took their time to explain all communication and evacuation protocols to the people of Mepe. Simulations to mimic real life situations, such as voluntary evacuation, first aid, and search and rescue activities were carried out with selected members of the Mepe community whilst the rest of the town members looked on and asked questions.
As part of its Emergency Preparedness Plan, VRA also allocated funds to support the purchase the relief items by NADMO. This was to ensure that there would be financial support for the immediate evacuation and relief of the flood victims.
Process of spilling
The process of spilling has been done on an incremental basis since September 15th 2023 from 20,000 cubic feet per second to now 180,000 cubic feet per second, This unfortunately is because, the rains continued to fill up the dam to critical levels. To put this in perspective ,the current space occupied by the Akosombo dam is 3% of the country’s total area, that is more than twice the size of the Greater Accra Region. The increased spilling of the Akosombo dam was imperative to ensure that the dam did not break and caused fatal floods and national power outages.
As the controlled spilling continues, VRA has vowed to do it absolute best in helping the victims in the affected communities.In addition to the funds allocated to NADMO, they have also provided 820 bags of rice,487 cartons of canned food,7,400 kgs of legumes, cereals and nuts,350 cartons of provisions and oil and 5,400 bags of sachet water.
Medical supplies and drugs worth over a million Ghana Cedis and counting have been made available to target diseases such as cholera,enteric fever,dysentery,worm infestations ,skin infections, snake bites,malaria and respiratory diseases.
These relief items are shared to the designated safe havens on a daily basis. Sogakope has been designated as the Medical Supply Distribution Depot to enable easy access to medical supplies and drugs.
VRA is constantly supplying potable water in tankers to the affected communities and have began the process of restoring the water supply system in Aveyime in the North Tongu District.
VRA is determined to provide any relevant support to the affected communities and vow to leave no one behind.
Source: Daily Mail GH