Recent dam spillage at the Akosombo and Kpong dams in Ghana has led to a major humanitarian crisis. Approximately 26,000 people have been affected, with their homes and livelihoods washed away by floodwater.
The Volta River Authority (VRA) initiated the “controlled spillage” on September 15, 2023, due to rising water levels in both reservoirs.
While this is not the first time such spillage has occurred from the Akosombo Dam, the impact has been substantial. Spillages were carried out in 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1991, and most recently in 2010.
The primary cause of this significant flooding, according to data from the Ghana Meteorology Agency (GMet), is the above-normal rainfall in the Sahelian countries. This increased rainfall has resulted in a higher volume of water flowing into the Akosombo Dam.
The impact downstream has been particularly severe. The VRA, under its Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP), categorizes spillage into three phases: Phase one, phase two, and phase three.
Phase one spillage should not exceed 5,000 m3, phase two ranges from 5,000 to 10,000 m3, and phase three includes any volume beyond that.
However, due to excessive inflow, engineers had to increase the volume of water being discharged.
The high water levels downstream have also been attributed to the siltation of the channels at the lower basin of the River Volta.
The affected communities have received relief efforts from the VRA, the National Disaster Management Organization, and the Ghana Navy.
Those affected, including children and women, have been provided shelter in temporary tents set up in schools and church premises on higher ground. Relief items, such as mattresses, blankets, food, clothing, and toiletries, have been supplied.
An inter-ministerial committee has been established to address the issues caused by the dam spillage and provide relief to those affected.
The VRA continues to monitor the situation and adjust spill levels to protect the integrity of the dam and the lives and properties of those affected.
The Akosombo Dam, part of the Volta River Project, is a rock-fill dam on the Volta River near Akosombo, Ghana.
The dam impounds Lake Volta, a large reservoir used for various purposes, including power generation, fishing, navigation, and recreation.