Bagre Dam spillage: residents along White Volta urged to evacuate to higher grounds


Residents along the White Volta River has been urged to move to higher grounds due to spillage of the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso.

The spillage began Thursday, September 1, 2022 and would span a period of 10 days, instead of the planned September 7, due to unexpected rise in reservoir water level, the Volta River Authority (VRA) said in a statement.

“The water levels of the White Volta River and its tributaries are expected to rise with the spill discharge from the Bagre Dam and the surface runoff because of the rainfall. This means that areas along the White Volta River, especially, are at a high risk of flooding,” the statement said.

It follows advice of SONABEL – the power utility of Burkina Faso – that the planned annual spillage of the 700 million square multi-purpose dam would occur earlier than expected.

The dam’s spillage, which began in 1999, is associated with annual loss of lives, destruction of property – including farms, houses and livestock – along the entire northern part of the country, particularly communities located along the White Volta and other water bodies serving as outlets for the discharged water.

The proposed multi-purpose Pwalugu Dam project in the Upper East Region is expected to provide the solution to the yearly floods from the spillage of the Bagre Dam, by serving as a reservoir. Its actual construction, though, is yet to commence.

Last year, for instance, incessant and devastating rain in the Upper West Region, coupled with the dam’s spillage, resulted in floods that swept away portions of roads and damaged farmlands and houses estimated at thousands of cedis across northern Ghana.

To avoid this happening, however, the VRA is advising people to evacuate to much safer areas as it expects the spilled water levels to increase.

The statement assured that the VRA and SONABEL will continue to monitor the spillage from the Bagre Dam, the global weather conditions and the rainfall within the northern part of the country, and advise accordingly.

As at August 31, 2022, the sharp rise in the water level stood at 234.88m representing 92.10 percent. The spillage of the dam will be done at a rate of 355 m3 /s. The volume and rate of the spill is expected to increase the inflow into the reservoir.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the press, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) in the Upper East Region says it has put in place mechanisms to provide relief and accommodation for persons who may be affected by the spillage. NADMO has, however, cautioned all residents and farmers along the White Volta to move to higher grounds. The spillage of the Bagre Dam takes place in either the month of August or September every year to prevent destruction to the dam.

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