Bulwark Intelligence

2023 AKOSOMBO DAM SPILLAGE: A CASE STUDY FOR BUSINESSES

Introduction

On 15 September 2023, the Akosombo Dam began a controlled spillage at 183,000 cfs/day due to the continued rise of the water level. This was reportedly increased on 9 October 2023. The Akosombo Dam – also known as the Volta Dam – is a hydroelectric dam on the Volta River in southeastern Ghana in the Akosombo gorge and part of the Volta River Authority (VRA). This is not the first time VRA has spilt water from the Akosombo Dam as similar exercises were conducted in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, and 1991, the most recent being in 2010. The spillage exercise, described as a disaster mitigation plan, began at a very low rate with no significant impact on downstream communities until 10 October 2023, when 6 spillage gates were opened to increase the flow as water-inflow to the reservoir increased and levels approached the dam’s maximum capacity.

Impacts

The spillage caused the Volta River’s banks to flood, displacing residents in the Greater Accra, Volta and Eastern regions. Residents in North, Central, and South Tongu District assemblies, Asuogyaman, Shai Osudoku, and Ada district assemblies were left with power outages, submerged houses and destroyed properties. Some lagoons in the Ketae, basin overrun their banks, flooding Anlo and Keta district settlements. In the Eastern region, communities upstream including Kudikope as well as communities downstream such as Abume, Kpedzi and Dzidzorkope among others were affected by the floods.

A map showing districts affected by the Akosombo Dam Spillage.

The spillage also had a terrible impact on locals who live along the Volta River downstream, with Mepe in the Volta region being the hardest hit. Initially, 8,000 people were reported to have been relocated across 8 towns, but by 19 October 2023, that number had already risen to 31,000. Overall, an estimated 39,333 Ghanaians in 192 communities have been affected by the floods.

Moving Forward: Recommendations

The spillage underscores the vulnerability of communities residing in close proximity to major dams and the pressing demand for comprehensive disaster management strategies. For businesses, operating in high-risk areas, it is crucial to glean insights from this disaster and proactively implement measures to minimize risks.

Preparedness and Response:

  • To respond effectively in times of crisis, companies should build thorough disaster preparedness plans in partnership with local authorities.
  • Create communication mechanisms and relationships with emergency services to ensure a coordinated disaster response.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation:

  • Conduct regular risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and establish local mitigation solutions.
  • Invest in flood barriers, pumps, and other flood-control measures to protect assets and people.

Training and Awareness:

  • Educate staff on how to manage crisis situations and raise knowledge of the significance of safety during floods and other natural disasters.

Business Continuity Planning:

  • Create and maintain solid business continuity strategies to guarantee that operations continue during and after a crisis.
  • Consider supply chain resilience and diversification to reduce interruptions

By adopting these recommendations, businesses can safeguard their interests and contribute to the resilience and well-being of the communities that bear the brunt of such disasters.

 

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