Perennial Flooding in the Accra Metropolis: the Human Factor

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Although many African states have implemented programmes aimed at controlling floods and other natural hazards, flooding has persisted. Much discussion had been made on the possible factors playing roles in the floods, of which some attributed it to natural causes whereas others pointed to human activities. Physical development within waterways, deposition of solid and plastic waste in drains and inappropriate drainage structure are some of the causes also mentioned. The brunt of the floods is felt at the household and community levels, not sparing commercial entities. The research therefore sought to identify the factors responsible for flooding in the Accra Metropolis and determine whether the floods can be attributed to the prevailing land uses and activities. The survey revealed that households that had encroached into the floodplain were coping with their predicament by constructing ramps and other barriers to prevent flood waters from entering. Other houses had constructed internal drains to quickly discharge run-off in a bid to reduce flooding. Principal among the causes identified to be responsible for the perennial floods is human habitation within floodplains coupled with their negative human activities in the form of direct dumping of refuse into drains. Institutional lapses and inactions were contributory causes as that would have prevented habitation of the floodplain as well as effectively managed the growth of the settlements. Also as a result of poor primary drainage management, sedimentation of the channelled drain is taking place and may soon reverse the gains. After an analysis of the situation it was recommended that long and short term actions be taken to reduce the incidence of flooding, which include reclamation of drainage reservations, review of building legislations, institutional strengthening and realignment, and channelling of the eastern tributary of the Odaw River as well as drainage maintenance and management activities by the relevant decentralised departments and agencies. At the household level, runoff can be reduced by encouraging rainwater harvesting To brace the metropolis up to absorb the shocks of natural disasters and respond appropriately, disaster planning was proposed to be incorporated into mainstream planning for cities.
A Thesis submitted to the School Of Graduate Studies. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 2008