Some districts risk being cut off from healthcare – report

Photo Credit: WHO

A 2022 report dubbed “Ghana: Roadmap for resilient infrastructure in a changing climate” has disclosed that some districts in the country risks being cut off from healthcare due to flooding and landslide exposure that affect roads.

The report which provided an assessment on risk of climate hazard on national infrastructure systems, touches on transport, water and energy sector as well as sub sectors such as healthcare systems accessing flood and drought effects on them.

Within the transport sector, the report revealed pronounced climate risks due to flooding and landslide exposure that affect roads, including major highways, with the potential to cause up to US$3.9 billion in damages on a national scale – triple the estimated US$1.3 billion Ghana invested in transport infrastructure in 2019.

As a result of expected flood damage, many districts in the Eastern, Central and Western regions may see over 80 percent of their population effectively cut off from healthcare services, which especially affects women, who access healthcare more often than men.

It added that key transport hubs such as airports and ports, which contribute to economic development as well as local and international mobility, are also at high risk from floods, adding that, airports at Tamale, Ho and Takoradi are top three exposed and the top five for inland river ports includes Makange, Yeji, Dambai, Dodolkope, and Kete Krachi.

The report further noted that key institutional gaps that emerge from detailed assessment of the sector include a lack of integrated planning that accounts for the impact of climate change on road and rail construction; inadequate integration of climate risk into feasibility studies and designs; limited maintenance funding for roads and emergency repairs; and uncoordinated asset management that is not climate risk-informed.

“Within the water sector, the priority climate risks include drought and flooding exposure that affects major water assets such as dams, the five most exposed of which have a total capacity of approximately 4.8 billion cubic metres (Akosombo, Bui, Tono, Vea, Weija).

In addition, parts of Ghana rely on the natural environment (rivers and other water resources) for water abstraction for household use, often in smaller, rural districts. However, an increase in droughts will reduce river runoff, affecting up to 1.3 million people across the country, with large impacts on women and girls who are often responsible for water collection. Flooding also threatens dam infrastructure and communities downstream,” it said.

For the energy sector, the report revealed that the main climate risks to service delivery are exposure to drought and flooding that threatens major components of the generation and transmission system.

“The top five exposed power plants provide electricity to 16.3 million people (Akosombo, Sunon-Asogli, Bui, Kpong, Cenpower), while the top five exposed substations (Ga West, Hohoe, Ga South, Greater Accra, Sefwi Bibiani-Anhwiaso Bekwai) provide electricity transmission to 3.9 million people.

Many mostly rural parts of the country rely on the natural environment for household energy generation through wood fuel. However, increased droughts in these parts threaten future energy availability to over 242 thousand people in the top five exposed districts alone (Wa, East, Banda, Sissala West, Lawra, Wa West),” it noted.

Key institutional gaps in the sector, identified include: a lack of integration of climate adaptation in national policy and planning instruments; a lack of climate risk assessment in sector planning, locking in climate risks due to long asset life; unsuitable design standards that are not relevant to the national context; and insufficient maintenance funding for retrofitting, rehabilitation, and expansion of existing power generation.

The report stated that as a result of climate change, Ghana is expected to experience more acute climate hazards such as flooding, as well as more frequent and intense droughts, stressing that it has the potential to threaten the socio-economic development.

Ghana’s commitment

Speaking at the launch of the report in Accra, the Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Kwaku Afriyie noted that the country is focused on building a more sustainable and resilient society by putting in place measures to ensure that people adapt climate change impact on infrastructure such as roads, dams, power distribution lines, homes, drains, and all structures.

“As we embark on COVID-19 recovery, we must transform the challenges of climate change into a historic opportunity by ensuring that recovery efforts are aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the goals of the Paris Agreement to build forward better,” he said.

For the CEO of Global Center on Adaptation, Dr. Patrick Verkooijen, the general message of the roadmap is that the country has a choice to make, that is, it either invests in resilient infrastructure and grow or it does not and face significant economic damages.

He argued that the bottom line of the report indicated that it makes economic sense to invest in resilient infrastructure, energy, water and transport system.

“Nothing is more corrosive to Africa’s economy than climate change. For us at the Global Center on Adaptation, the real story on climate adaptation in Africa is a story of resilience, of responsibility, of solidarity, of opportunities for a safer, greener, more prosperous continent,” he added.

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