A famous resource economist, Erich Zimmerman, once stated that "resources are not, they become”.
While the above statement is true, it’s a wonder why in a country with some of the best brains in civil engineering, urban planning and resource management there hasn’t been any strategies to store and harvest rains and the excess water that the Burkinabes spill from the Bagre Dam every year.
What the nation has been good at is rather resorting to donating relief items to flood victims instead of identifying sustainable ways of addressing the problem. Sadly, right after the donation of items, everybody goes to sleep while the root cause of the problems persists until another year.
During this time of the year, the rains combined with the spillage from the Bagre Dam wreak havoc in Northern and Upper East Regions of the country. Communities are cut off from main towns as roads and bridges are flooded. This disrupts farming activities and other productive activities respectively.
One of the examples is in the Saboba District of the Northern Region where the road and the bridge that link Saboba and Yendi at Kpalibademong have been covered in water preventing movement from Yendi to Saboba and Saboba to Yendi.
What went into the planning of the construction of the bridge across the river? Reports from the natives in the community suggest that the contractor didn’t construct the bridge high enough to avoid such a situation. This means that for the next couple of days market women can’t step out to trade, farmers would have to remain in their homes, health personnel in need of drugs and other essentials will have to wait while patients suffer.
And the above consequences go a long way to hinder the human rights of the inhabitants of these areas. Just because there was poor planning and dereliction of duty the rights of citizens have been denied.
In a matter of months all this water will dry up and the inhabitants, as well as their domestic animals, will then struggle for water. While this is a natural act, it shows that this country has not been able to identify that water in such abundance is a resource and must be managed to prevent it from bringing life to a standstill.
Why are we so bless yet so cursed to see that we need to manage water from rain and that of the spillage from the Bagre Dam to prevent needless floods?
What prevents us from constructing dams to store all this water for use in the dry season? What prevents us from constructing a dam to store the excess water that is spilt from the Bagre Dam? There is a principle lost on us in national planning: wisely planning ahead is a principle of practical living.
One dares say that the floods that are experienced in this country are needless! Especially in the Northern and Upper East Regions where the impact of the spillage of the Bagre Dam combined with rains is most felt, the best thing that can be done is the construction of dams and canals; it is not donating relief items to the victims.
In Burkina Faso, they have been able to identify that water is a resource to the extent that rivers and streams with their tributaries that flow through the central parts of Ouagadougou and most parts of the country have been channelled and stored for agricultural purposes throughout the year. We have so many rivers and streams accompanied with so many tributaries, building dams and canals is the best way to manage the resource that flows freely.
That is why women and men who trade in tomatoes go all the way to purchase tomatoes from Burkina Faso because when tomatoes is out of season in Ghana it’s in abundance in Burkina Faso.
It was the Afro beat legend, Fela Kuti who sang: “water no get enemy”. Water from the rain and the spillage from the dam is a resource; let’s begin to find the political will to see water as a resource that must not be allowed to become a hindrance through needless floods.
Burkina Faso has done it. They have heeded Erich Zimmerman’s theory; it’s working for them. It will work for us if we put our minds to it.
The writer is a freelance journalist.