Residents in communities along the Vea Water Supply Dam and Irrigation Scheme in the Bongo District of the Upper East Region are asking for the speed-up of rehabilitation works on the dam to enhance their living conditions and restore livelihoods.
The rehabilitation works, expected to last for three years, include the restoration of the eroded downstream slope of the dam embankment to improve stability as well as work on the irrigation canal.
The World Bank funded project, to be executed by Messrs Rann Luuk Limited, also involves drainage works, farm road works, and perimeter fencing of the irrigable area.
Currently the dam had been blocked, and gets flooded whenever there are heavy rains, affecting areas like Nyariga, Vea, and Beluga Zorkor, where the people had to use canoes to cross to Bongo and Yorogo for schooling and other economic activities.
Nurses cannot also cross from Bongo and Yorogo on the other side of the bridge to attend to patients in the Community-Based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compounds in the aforementioned areas.
Mr Justice Atombiscu Ayine, the Assemblyman of Nyariga in the Bolgatanga Municipality, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that farmers, who normally used water from the dam, were in distress because the water no longer flowed to irrigate their farms, pushing many out of business.
These farmers cultivate maize, rice, millet, groundnut, tomato, pepper, and onion among other crops, to feed their families and the nation to ensure food security.
He said since the dam was constructed some 42 years ago, it had not seen any major rehabilitation works, resulting in the breakdown.
“As I’m speaking with you the canals had been blocked but there hasn’t been any community engagement over the project. We just see some trucks moving up and down, but nobody has informed us as to when the work would start and be completed,” he said.
Mr Ayine appealed to the authorities to speed up work on the dam to enable farmers to go into the 2024 cropping season to get some income for the upkeep of their families.
“And we have heard that they are planting trees along the catchment areas of the dam. We’re appealing that they should plant some mango and other fruit bearing trees.”
“Within the communities, people will even be happy to take good care of the trees because they know they could benefit, including their children, for their future well-being.”
However, when the trees were planted without anybody taking care of them, “we will still go back to square one!” the Assemblyman said.
He suggested that grass could also be planted along the dam embankment wall to protect it from erosion, siltation, and cracks.
Mr Ayine was the 2019 Upper East Regional Best Farmer. He cultivated maize, rice, millet, groundnut, tomato, and pepper.
He also had 52 sheep, 37 goats, 270 fowls, and 360 guinea fowls.