The Volta River Authority (VRA) and National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO are set to carry out a simulation exercise to assess the country’s emergency response-readiness arising from the unlikely release of significant water from the Akosombo and Kpong Dams.
Dubbed the VRA Emergency Preparedness Exercise “Da Woho So” 2023, the flood inundation simulation will take place in three different locations on Thursday, May 11, 2023.
They are Dzidzorkope in Asuogyaman, Azizakpe in Ada East and Mepe in North Tongu districts of the Eastern, Greater Accra and Volta Regions respectively.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the VRA Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP) 2023 in Accra, the Director of Engineering Services Department of the VRA, Kwaku Wiafe, said the exercise will allow the Authority and NADMO to – in close collaboration with the country’s other security apparatus – assess and improve their emergency response plans, procedures and capabilities; as well as test their readiness to deal with lives and emergencies caused by the release of a significant quantity of water from the Akosombo and Kpong Dams.
He said even though the dams are very safe and “a dam-break is unlikely”, global trends in climate change and their anticipated impacts make it necessary for them to enhance their preparedness as a hydropower plant operator.
With the prediction that climate change is expected to increase the frequency and intensity of compound events occurring simultaneously or sequentially – such as the combination of storm surge, extreme rainfall and river flooding, Mr. Wiafe said this means an increased possibility of Akosombo and Kpong Dams spilling and affecting over 300,000 people downstream.
“We therefore approach this exercise with utmost seriousness,” he stated.
On his part, the VRA’s Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Engineering and Operations, Edward Obeng-Kenzo, said climate change and its impacts are becoming evident in the country, hence the need to be disaster response-ready through the upcoming simulation exercise.
“Africa is arguably the most vulnerable region in the world to impacts of climate, even though it has made a negligible contribution to historical emissions. This vulnerability means that adaptation to climate change must be a priority,” he stated.
Against this backdrop, Obeng-Kenzo reiterated the importance of VRA’s Emergency Preparedness Plan; noting that lessons learnt from the simulation exercise will help manage other flood emergencies in the country.
According to the World Bank’s Ghana Climate and Development Report 2022, flooding affects about 45,000 people in the country yearly.
The Director General of NADMO, Eric Agyemang Prempeh, noted that disaster management has become even more difficult as disasters occur more frequently, are more intense and multidimensional.
“Therefore, as a nation, we can never be adequately prepared for disasters; but we can be aware of the importance of prevention through early mitigating systems such as simulation exercises and by building an efficient system to respond to them,” he stated.
“I firmly believe that continued exercises of this nature will improve the preparedness and resilience of our local communities. Gaps in disaster preparedness and response will also be identified, and the capacity of response agencies, including NADMO, to manage and reduce disaster risk will be increased.
“Therefore, the purpose of this simulation exercise is not only for the VRA to test its emergency preparedness plan, but also to validate and improve the capabilities and confidence of our emergency responders. This is very necessary as speed, efficiency and good coordination are essential to reducing the human and economic costs of disasters,” he said.