Bagre Dam Spillage, Floods And What We Are Not Doing To Stop It

Last Friday, it was widely reported by the media that farms in the Upper East region are under water following heavy rainfall and spillage of the Bagre Dam in Burkina Faso.

The spillage of the dam which began on August 10 is said to have destroyed food crops of mainly smallholder farmers who have been facing perennial flooding around this time annually through rainfall and spillage of the dam.

Typically, crops such as rice, corn, soya bean, groundnuts and watermelon are all submerged in the affected area, according to our correspondent, Samuel Akapule, who toured some of the affected farms around the White Volta in the Upper East Region.

We find it extremely sad that we have come a full circle to lament again over flooding of farms in that part of the country, something we have done consistently over several years with no solution in sight.

Ever since the Bagre Dam was constructed several years ago, we recall that successive government have been unable to find solution to the problem that has been a major challenge for the farmers in the area.

The latest attempt last year to solve the age old problem was the government’s effort at constructing the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam in the Talensi District in the Upper East Region.

When completed, the multipurpose dam is expected to address three main issues, namely irrigation, hydropower generation and flood control.

Ironically, the $993 million project which is being financed solely by the government has been on the drawing board since the early 1960s, and the sod-cutting ceremony performed by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, to get the project underwaywas thus considered historic.

But until the project is completed, the smallholder farmers would continue to face the perennial flooding in the country especially in the northern part of the country.

That is why, we at the Ghanaian Times, consider the situation in that area as a poor commentary considering the fact that the area whose predominant activity is agriculture also constitutes the food basket of the nation.

Additionally, the smallholder farmers in the three northern regions are said to contribute not less than 80 per cent of the country’s domestic production.

It is, therefore, unfortunate that annually, thousands of hectares of farmlands and variety of crops and livestock are destroyed through flooding. No doubt the impact of these floods is huge, diverse and well-known.

What is worse is that these floods are man-made, self-made and, therefore, preventable. The question is why are we not doing what we have to do to stop and prevent the floods from destroying the farmlands and displacing farmers and thus affecting food production?

The devastation caused by the spillage is having a negative impact on the livelihood of the people in the downstream and it is difficult to understand why the country has not been able to contain the excess water from the perennial heavy downfall of rains and the spillage of Bagre Dam over the years to augment agricultural productivity.

What we need to do, therefore, is that the annual combined ritual of the Bagre dam spillage and massive downpours can be turned into a blessing through the construction of dams to collect and store the excess water that can be put to use all year round in sustainable agriculture production for the benefit of the people and the country at large.