Hydrological Authority must be made game changer

Year after year, the country becomes inundated with floods anytime it rains, with this year being no exception.
In fact, it appears things are even getting worse.

The search for a permanent solution to the yearly ritual of floods across the country has resulted in the spending of GH¢2.8 billion on drains construction and an additional GH¢150 million on drainage and its control by the government in the last five years, yet there seems to be no let up.

Although many have argued that the reckless way in which citizens handle refuse, clogging the drains and subsequently resulting in the floods, accounts for our dilemma, many other factors come into play in flood control.

Apart from people deliberately building on water courses and filling up wetlands for construction purposes, many developers, as well as individuals, are so ignorant of the need to know the hydrology of a place before any structures are put up.

Hydrology speaks to the properties of the earth’s water, especially its movement in relation to land, which is very vital for the construction of even drains.

Yes, the country currently has the Hydrological Services Department (HSD), which should be responsible for guiding and offering professional advice to the government, institutions and individuals involved on any form of construction.

However, it seems that the agency under the Ministry of Works and Housing, which was established in 1995, has become overawed with the recurring floods in the country and needs to be strengthened to deliver on its mandate.

It is the search for the best way to empower the HSD that led to the laying in Parliament of the Ghana Hydrological Authority Bill, 2021, on Wednesday, October 27, 2021.

The bill seeks to establish the Ghana Hydrological Authority (GHA) as the state institution responsible for the planning, design, execution, operation and maintenance of flood control mechanisms, coastal engineering works, drainage improvement works and operational and applied hydrology.

According to the Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye, the challenges associated with the delivery of hydrological services had made it difficult for institutions that depended on hydrology-related information for construction, irrigation, agriculture and maritime purposes to take full advantage of the services of the HSD.

He, therefore, opined that the establishment of the GHA would go a long way to enhance the existing hydrology and provide the essential technical leadership required to tackle drainage and sustain flood management services, while ensuring the effective and well-coordinated development of drainage and flood management infrastructure in the country.

“The authority will also be in a position to engage with development partners and explore sources of funding other than government of Ghana to undertake flood mitigation projects across the country, while enhancing the resilience of our communities and essential infrastructure,” he added.

But be that as it may, the concern of the Daily Graphic is not about whether we have an HSD or a GHA in place; it is about ensuring the efficiency and effectiveness of the GHA if the bill, which went through its second reading on June 14, 2022, is eventually passed to pave the way for its establishment.

If we continue with the status quo, then we would only have succeeded in wasting everyone’s time and resources, especially Parliament and the citizenry, who have been crying for succor and hoping for a lasting solution to the perennial floods.

There will not be automatic success in dealing with our hydrological challenges because the GHA has been put in place. We need to work hard at getting the right people and resources to make it work, this time around, by minimising the incidence of flooding and addressing issues of flood control infrastructure in the country (some of which have stalled over the years), as the Chairperson of the Committee on Works and Housing in Parliament, Isaac Kwame Asiamah, who seconded the motion for the second reading of the bill, had envisaged.

The GHA is expected to be a restructured HSD, so that it will effectively perform its mandate, and that must be our focus.



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