Mr Ben Ampomah, Executive Secretary of the Water Resources Commission (WRC) has tasked countries within the Volta Basin to scale up disaster risk reduction systems to mitigate the perennial flooding and drought in the area.
He said even though a lot had been achieved through the implementation of some early warning and disaster prevention initiatives, more needed to be done by member countries, especially in terms of up scaling existing disaster risk reduction systems to curb the trend.
Speaking at a two-day National Technical Workshop on the project; “Integrating Flood and Drought Management and Early Warning for Climate Change Adaptation in the Volta Basin (VFDM)”, he said more improved methods and technology were required for early detection of disasters in the basin to save lives.
The workshop was aimed at presenting results and recommendations of the Assessment of Strengths and Weaknesses in Flood and Drought Forecasting and Warning in the Volta basin.
The VFDM project, which commenced in 2019, seeks to enable the six countries of the Volta Basin namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Togo to implement coordinated and joint measures to improve their existing regional, national and local level management plans.
The project, expected to last for four years is being funded by the Adaptation Fund and being implemented by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Global Water Partnership-West Africa (GWP-WA) and the Volta Basin Authority.
Mr Ampomah said Ghana, like other member States within the basin, and other countries within the sub-region, were not spared the adverse effects of climate change in the form of disasters, floods and droughts.
He said this had on many occasions led to significant damage including; loss of human lives, adding that even though the forces of nature were impossible to master, it was imperative that member states adopted innovative ways to reduce the impacts of natural disasters for the survival of mankind.
“Indeed, we cannot eliminate disasters, but we can mitigate risk. We can reduce damage and we can save more lives,” he added.
He said over the years, the country and its partners had implemented a number of initiatives aimed at ensuring effective management of floods in the Basin.
These are the Flood Early Warning System (FEWS) for the White Volta Basin for accurate flood forecasting in the White Volta basin developed in 2016 and the trans-boundary flood forecasting model and FEWS Early Warning System were also developed and tested for the Oti River Basin in 2017.
“In addition, in 2018 a Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) for the country was developed and tested for drought forecasting in the Northern Region to ensure the effective management of droughts in Ghana.
Additionally, baseline assessment and gap analysis of drought management and forecasting was completed and a climate vulnerability assessment of the agricultural section focusing on dry season management and planning was developed,” Mr Ampomah.
Dr Fofana Rafatou, acting Director of Volta Observatory said countries in the Basin were facing extreme events including; more severe and longer droughts, with widespread ecological, political and socio-economic consequences.
She said the workshop would, therefore, provided an opportunity for actors to review and consolidate the draft received on the basic analysis on Early Warning Systems and recommendations for the development of Flood and Drought Risk Maps, and the establishment of Early Warning Systems.
“We will be working to empower the National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHS) and all other agencies of the six riparian countries,” she said.