Nature And People Under Stress – The Case Of Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar Site

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Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar Site
Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar Site

“Resources are not; they become. Resources are cultural appraisal.” W.E. Zimmermann.

Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar Site (KLCRS):

Location and Size.

KLCRS is located at the southern part of the Volta Region and, thus, southeastern Ghana. Covering an area about 1200 sq. km, it is the largest lagoon complex in Ghana and the second largest in West Africa after Ebrié Lagoon in Côte d’Ivoire.

Stretching from the south-eastern bank of the Volta River to the Denu Lagoon, it is made up of numerous water bodies and the adjoining wetlands, marshes and swamps. It comprises of the water bodies and wetlands to as far as Aflao and into Lomé in Togo with Avu and Angor Lagoons being recognised as lagoons besides the Keta Lagoon.

The Keta Lagoon alone is about 40 km long and 12 km wide at its widest portion. Its surface area is about 302 sq km. These open lagoons are annually fed by rivers such as Belikpa, Aka and Tordzie.

Keta Lagoon Complex as a Natural Resource.

Next to the Atlantic Ocean and the Volta River, Keta Lagoon Complex is arguably the third greatest water resource Ghana has. But alas! This multi-million dollar natural resource has never received the needed attention due it but only lip service from the time of independence till now.

Various researches and studies conducted over the decades, have attested to the fact that the Keta Lagoon Complex holds a key to the socio-economic development of the Southern Volta, Volta and Ghana as a whole.

Keta Lagoon Complex: A Shared Resource.

Keta Lagoon Complex Ramsar Site (KLCRS) is a shared resource among seven District Assemblies. These are South Tongu, Anloga, Keta, Ketu-South, Ketu-North, Akatsi South and, Akatsi North.
These seven Assemblies can come together and develop this great natural resource to their mutual benefit. This has not been done all these decades despite the clear evidence that the resource could be the game changer for the entire Southern Volta and beyond.

Danger Looms.

The KLCRS is currently silted with sediments and materials to the extent that, the latest scientific research findings show that the lagoon is less than 2 metres deep in its deepest portions around Woe area. All other portions are very shallow with some less than 0.4 metre.
Danger looms ahead and the earlier attended to, the better.

This development is serious and needs special attention from all stakeholders – local, regional, national and even international. Action is urgently needed because, the KLCRS is a wetland with international importance.
The Ramsar Secretariat must be involved in saving the largest Ramsar Site in Ghana now.

KLCRS Is In Floods.

At the moment, the lagoon has burst boundaries and every single community along its banks is getting flooded. Talk of:
– Anlo-Afiadenyigba,
– Dzelukope Torkor,
– Abutsiakope Torkor/Anlo State School,
– Kedzikope Torkor,
– Keta
– Vui Torkor,
– Tegbi,
– Woe,
– Anloga,
– Seva,
– Anyako,
– Alakple, etc
are all in floods.

Urgent Need to Save KLCRS.

There is an urgent need to save the KLCRS by dredging it in most parts, and build embankments, levées or dikes all around it. This would require comprehensive and integrated engineering approaches to find a permanent solution to the annual flooding of the lagoon. This will deepen the lagoon basin to adequately contain inflows from all feeder rivers, streams and rivulets. This is what would save Keta Lagoon from the perennial foods.

Inflows But No Outflows:

It should be noted that, of late, this situation has been routinely affecting fringe communities more because the outlet into the Volta River at Anyanui is heavily silted and even blocked by tidal waves sand deposits.

Rivers flowing from upstream like the Tordzie, Aka, Belikpa, Angor, Nonobe, etc., empty their waters into the Keta Lagoon all-year round. And with the lagoon having no direct outlets into the sea, the result is these perennial floods. Particular attention should therefore be devoted to the channel to Anyanui to allow swift outflow into the Volta estuary. During colonial times, it’s said Awoamefia Torgbui Sri II used to organise communal labour to keep the channel desilted.

Other Likely Factors Causing the Flooding.

Other attributable causes are:
– urbanisation,
– farming activities,
– climate change,
– development of infrastructural facilities, etc.

Effects of the Floods on Inhabitants.

Interviews with fishermen in the morning of Friday 11th November, 2022 by Kwesi Johnson of Friends of the Nation (FoN) reveal that, in the advent of the floods, they are catching less fish.
They said “because the fish now swim away quicker to hide in the foliages”.
Also, “the fish in our “atidza” (branches of wood piled up as fish habitants) had all escaped into the larger lagoon body”.

Communities have their homes, places of convenience flooded, and some have to resort to the use of canoes to go in and out of their homes.

Actions Taken by the Keta Municipal Assembly.

The Keta Municipal Assembly (KeMA) Coordinator of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and his lieutenant responsible for the Afiadenyigba Zone have been on the grounds to acquaint themselves with the situation and furnish the higher authorities with reports appropriately.
It is hoped that some help would be extended to affected people in all affected communities.

Conclusion.

According to some old folks, the Keta Lagoon Complex has never been dredged before. The best practice globally, is to have these water bodies dredged at regular intervals of between 10 – 20 years to get it desilted and dislodged of sediment and material deposits. Sedimentation reduces the capacity to contain excess water, and in this era of weather unpredictability (climate change), resilience is compromised. This situation, therefore calls for urgent need to dredge the Keta Lagoon now.

Joel Degue
Resource Development Consultant.
(024-250-1638)

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