At least 34 people have died in northern Ghana during flooding caused by heavy rains and waters spilling from a dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso, relief agency officials said Thursday.
Bagre Dam is located on the White Volta river that begins in Burkina Faso and which converges with the Black Volta downstream and feeds into Lake Volta in southern Ghana.
The authorities open the dam’s spillways during annual rains, but the excess volumes of water regularly flood communities along the rivers.
People living along the White Volta have been urged to stay away from its banks. Others have been told to move to higher ground.
Seji Saji, deputy head of Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organisation, said the situation was under control and teams were working flat out to reach those affected.
“In all we have on record 34 deaths and two people missing. The affected people are over 52,000 and we are still assessing the situation,” he added.
“All these happened during the time that the river overflowed its banks but the rate of spillage has reduced considerably and fortunately since last week and this week there has not been any heavy rainfall.”
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo and his government have been criticised for not visiting victims of the floods.
Aid agency Oxfam’s inequality programmes and campaign manager in Ghana, Zakaria Sulemana, said the situation required “high-powered political attention”.
“People want to hear the president, in fact we should have seen the president visit the area to console them or better still initiate an action to ensure that this does not happen again,” he added.
Saji said Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia will be visiting flood victims this weekend.
In 1999, flooding in the Upper West, Upper East, Northern and Brong Ahafo and Volta regions of northern Ghana affected more than 300,000 people, according to NADMO.