The Volta River Authority (VRA) says there was a comprehensive simulation exercise on evacuation with all stakeholders in the affected communities of the Akosombo Dam spillage before the opening of the dam.
Before the decision to spill, VRA held a simulation exercise dubbed “Exercise Da Wo Ho So 2023” in May 2023, to help ensure that all relevant stakeholders were prepared for a flood-related event.
The exercise tested the emergency response procedures and capabilities of relevant stakeholders, and lessons from the exercise were noted to improve response preparedness.
The simulation exercise was conducted, concurrently at the three (3) District Assemblies namely Asuogyaman, Ada East and North Tongu, while complementary simulations took place in the six remaining districts.
The main objective was to “Test response to (excessive) spillage of 5,000 to 10,000 m3/s of water from the Akosombo Dam resulting in extensive flooding of downstream districts.”
There was a dry-run from the established National and District Emergency Operation Centres (EOCs) to test the emergency communication channels, and important information regarding the exercise was also relayed to the relevant relief agency personnel.
The people in the communities were taken through training on how to evacuate their homes, in addition to first aid and safety responses for early warning and notification.
They also worked with the relief agency personnel on the process of search and rescue of trapped victims in flooded areas during a potential spillage scenario.
There was also a simulation on the evacuation of trapped victims to designated safe havens from communities with higher risks of flooding.
Mepe was identified as one of the communities with high exposure to flooding. Therefore an EOC was setup within Mepe, with their District Chief Executive, Divine Osborne Fenu at the helm of the simulation exercise. Relief agency personnel from the simulation exercise took their time to explain all communication and evacuation protocols to the people of Mepe.
Simulations to mimic real life situations, such as voluntary evacuation, first aid, search and rescue activities, amongst others, were successfully carried out with selected members of the Mepe community, whilst the rest of the town members looked on and asked questions.
As part of its Emergency Preparedness Plan, VRA also allocated funds to support the purchase of relief items by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO). This was to ensure that there would be financial support for the immediate evacuation and relief efforts in a flood scenario.
The ongoing controlled spilling from the Akosombo Dam has been carried out on an incremental basis since September 15, 2023; starting gradually from 20,000 cubic feet per second, to the current level of 180,000 cubic feet per second.
This unfortunately is because the rainfall pattern changed significantly from prior years, (a 1 in 50 year scenario) and continued to fill up the dam to critical levels.
As the controlled spilling continues, VRA has vowed to do it absolute best in helping the victims in the affected communities.
In addition to funds they have allocated to NADMO, they have already provided 820 bags of rice, 487 cartons of canned food, 7,400kgs of legumes, cereals and nuts, 350 cartons of provisions and oil, 5,400 bags of sachet water, with more to come.
Medical supplies and drugs worth over a million Ghana Cedis and counting have been made available to target diseases such as cholera, enteric fever, dysentery, worm infestations, skin infections, snake bites, malaria and respiratory diseases.