Features | National

Dichemso homeowners desert homes as flood worsens

Akosua Mary had begun to settle at her aunt's house on a quiet residential street when the annual flood began.

It is in a lovely and tranquil setting, but when she and her family moved in approximately 30 years ago, flood waters filled her basement and sloshed up the entire building.

Akosua has lived in the apartment for several years, giving birth to all five of her children in the flood-prone area.

"We've always slept in rooms because we don't have any other option," Akosua explained.

The house is filthy on the inside, but she has little alternative when she returns from her outings any day.

When the area floods, vehicles are unable to access the main Dichemso-airport stretch, forcing Akosua to take her children to safer grounds. Until the flood waters recede, this is virtually always done.

Because of the perennial flood waters, her Aunty fled the house, and she hasn't returned since. Akosua says she now lives abroad.

"The flood has been going on for almost 30 years. Houses have collapsed and others have sunk, but no remedy has been found, "she claimed.

Her house is one of many, that have been flooded annually, but many of them cannot afford to relocate or elevate them.

There were houses even near the drainage system that collapsed, and no one could find traces of them now.

Akosua's furniture, as well as that of those who live with her, has been ruined. She always dries her clothing almost completely on the dryline that runs from one of her apartments to the other.

Her house is a four-bedroom house having the frontage towards the drainage. As a result, Akosua is more prone to flooding. Any rain will cause her house to flood.

Inside her rooms, there is a pool of stagnant water with goods stacked on top of each other to prevent damage. Her cats are constantly on the higher ground, with hens roaming around in the hopes that the next rain will not arrive.

Akosua would stand in front of her house whenever the weather is cloudy, praying that it would clear up.

There are two abandoned houses on both sides of Akosua's residence. One has totally collapsed, while the other still has fragile walls that are waiting to be blown away by the next flood.

Both of the homeowners are missing. They moved to a location that no one knows about, including Akosua.

A adjacent church is dealing with flooding, but worshippers have raised the walls to limit the flood's impact.

The house adjacent to the church is on the market. "House for sale," the owner has written on the top. However, since the owner put up that for sale sign, no one has come to buy.

"Nobody wants to buy it because of the flooding. Anyone who approaches flies," Akosua explained.

There was no one in the building when we checked. It's a two-story structure with a fenced-in perimeter, but the flood doesn't seem to bother.

We waited for a while, expecting to see a tenant, but no one showed up.

Another abandoned house, just after the "house for sale," is now occupied by alleged "wee smokers." We were unable to independently verify whether or not the owner permitted them to occupy it.

A private business school is located opposite the main Dichemso-Plaza street. It is not immune to the flood. A brief examination of the structure reveals evidence of years of flooding. When we arrived, there was no one in the building. The weather was overcast, and it was obvious that everyone had fled to seek cover elsewhere.

Afia Safowaah, 47, has also resided there for the past two decades.

When it looks like it might rain, Afia says he has to go to the bathroom out of anxiety and worry.

She owns the house and hence is unable to rent a room elsewhere.

When they bought the land where Afia lives, it was safe, but no one anticipated it could become dangerous.

The 47-year-old has endured the worst decade of her life in the last ten years.

Some residents have died as a result of massive floods in Kumasi, while others have had their everyday lives and livelihoods disrupted.

According to climate change forecasts, increasing rainfall and higher temperatures might make Ghana particularly vulnerable to catastrophic events like flooding in the next 100 years, leading to increased migration.

Floods, for example, have caused special challenges for Ghanaians, who are unaware of their flood-adaptive capacities.

There are no decent gutters in Dichemso. Where there are any, they are in poor condition and clogged.

Afia affirms, "There are no major gutters here."

Many renters have deserted rooms they paid to safer place.

"The tenants have moved out. Here you will only find landlords and a few tenants," Afia says.

A number of houses and rooms are deserted. Some buildings have deteriorated, and there are no rooms with decent sitting chairs.

Few people have been lucky enough to sell their homes to those who were unaware of the disaster.

Though there has only been one verified death in the last few years, many believe the worst is yet to come.

Residents say the deceased was electrocuted in a flood waters.

According to National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) sources, at least four people perished in Kumasi in 2021, with over 200 people displaced as a result of flooding. After some structures collapsed, at least 6 persons were critically injured.

Following the severe rains, NADMO had urged that the Ghana Education Service (GES) guarantee that schools in the Ashanti Region close early. Children walking to or from school without adult supervision during periods of heavy rain account for a large percentage of flood victims in Ghana. Officials in charge of disaster relief frequently emphasize the need for a better understanding of flood threats.

Floods in the Ashanti Region killed at least 12 children between September and October 2019. In 2020, severe floods ravaged the region once more, killing a small child in Kumasi.

The strong rains wrecked properties worth millions of Ghana cedis, including buildings, roads, market clothes, and home items.

The Ghana Meteorological Service Department in Kumasi reported that the downpour lasted three hours and six minutes and measured 108.38 millimeters. This amount of rain has been considered as unprecedented in the region in the last ten years.

Before the severe flooding, Meteorological Officer Kwame Ofori-Agyemeng revealed that a rainfall total of 55.9 millimeters had been recorded the day before, on Wednesday, June 23.

According to him, June is the wettest month of the year, and the water table in the earth crust rises due to the heavy rains.

As a result, any large amount of rain that the earth absorbs will be saturated enough for the earth to gradually absorb or drain before the rain on the surface settles.

However, it is vital to note that the quantity of rainfall reported on the day of the flooding was enormous, and had not been seen in Kumasi for the preceding 15 years, according to accessible data.

Residents in the heavily flood-prone areas, such as Akosua and Afia, are concerned that increasing rainfall intensity would hit them the hardest as June approaches.

They want to relocate, but where to is a million dollar question for which they have yet to find an answer.

A house can cost more than 100,000 cedis to build. It's a price that few people can afford. However, there are no national grant programs for relocating residents or catastrophe relief money.

The Ghanaian government, through NADMO, exclusively provides relief materials to communities in emergency situations. That, too, does not arrive on schedule or in small quantities.

As climate change worsens flooding, many more homeowners will confront this dilemma.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.

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