Thursday, September 6, 2007
Famine stares 3 Northern Regions in the face
Story: Charles Benoni Okine & Benjamin Glover.
AN imminent famine stares the three Northern Regions in the face, following the torrential rains that destroyed large tracts of farmlands in the areas.
Barely a week after the Black and White Volta Rivers burst their banks, causing serious flooding in most parts of the three regions, most of the rice, maize, yam, tomato and millet farms are still submerged.
That follows a period of prolonged drought that also destroyed food crops in the regions.
The situation is critical and likely to affect the general food supply from the three regions to other parts of the country.
As a result, the Vice President, Alhaji Aliu Mahama, has led a high-powered technical team of experts to the affected areas to ascertain the extent of damage caused.
Their first port of call was the Upper East Region.
Among the Vice President’s entourage was the Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr. Magnus Opare Asamoah; the Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr. Christopher Addai; the National Co-ordinator of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Mr. George Isaac Amoo, and the Director in charge of Bridges at the Ghana Highway Authority, Mr. Peter Dagadu.
The Vice President sympathized with the affected people and said the government was fully committed to ensuring that relief items were dispatched to the region for distribution.
“We see that the problem is huge and I want to assure you that the government will continue to supply relief items to bring some sort of relief to our people,” he stated.
Six persons have so far been confirmed dead while hundreds of livestock, including cattle, had been washed away by the floods.
About 40,000 inhabitants have been rendered homeless and are either putting with their relatives and friends or living in school buildings.
Areas that used to be busy communities have also been completely washed away beyond recognition.
Garu, for instance, has been completely cut off from the other parts of the region as a result of the collapse of the only major bridge that linked the area and Bawku, the Northern Region, as well as the Volta Region.
When the Vice President and his entourage arrived at Garu, there were scores of people stranded on the other side of the Tamme Bridge trying to see how best they could carry their goods across the river.
The Vice President earlier called on the Bawku Naba, Asigri Abugrago Azoka 11, who also called on the government to expedite action on getting relief to the thousands of the affected victims.
Alhaji Mahama also visited the Kulungungu Bridge which was under repairs and urged the workers to work around the clock to fix the bridge on time.
Emergency repair works of the two main bridges in the region, Garu and Kulungungu, which collapsed as a result of the flooding, were also being undertaken at a provisional cost of ¢700 million.
An official of the Bridge Maintenance Unit of the Ghana Highway Authority, Mr. Samuel Nkansah, gave the assurance that restoration work on the Kulungungu Bridge would be completed in 30 days to enable commuters to use the bridge.
Meanwhile, officials of the NADMO said the relief items worth about ¢ 10 billion were due in the region by the end of the week.
Already, items including blankets, mattresses and food worth ¢ 1.124 billion being the first consignment of relief items have been distributed to the affected people.
At Sandema, the visit of the Vice President to the Palace of the Paramount Chief of Sandema was nearly marred as angry youth protested against the presence of the District Chief Executive of the area, Mr. Thomas Alonsi.
The angry youth, who booed and jeered at the DCE, said his presence was an insult to the palace, since the DCE failed to honour the late Chief, Nab (Dr.) Ayieta Azantilow with his presence during the burial of the late King of Builsa.
It took the timely intervention of the security personnel and pleadings from some members of the Vice President’s entourage for the youth to remain calm.
The Vice-President, on behalf of the government, consoled the family of the late Sandem Nab, adding that the departure of the Paramount Chief had created a huge vacuum in the Upper East Region, Northern Ghana and Ghana as a whole.
“This man lived a full life and served his people, as well as the whole country, very well and the government will give the late Sandem Nab a fitting funeral,” he said.
Daily Graphic - Thursday, September 6, 2007 Pages: 1 & 3