*I wrote this article 3 years ago (in 2010) and didn’t get round to publishing it. I present it unedited (bar the picture) just to make the tired point of cycles:
If anyone is searching for proof that we absolutely fail to learn as a nation, then simply read any newspaper’s annual account of the flooding in Accra for the past 10-15 years. If any of our radio stations keep files of their shows, then alternatively do well to listen to their yearly reportage of the same issue. What will crop up is the sad reality of a vicious cycle, and the only thing that will change from a 2001 account to a 2009 version of this flooding problem will be number of zeros in terms of damaged property; that is only thanks to the 2007 currency change. Nothing else will change in the content of the news coverage though: injuries to people escaping the watery carnage; destruction of valuable property, goods, houses and other items; inferior road networks washed away; the eventual cholera and other water borne disease occurrences; and worst of all, death will keep rearing their undeniably ugly heads. The number of human beings who lose their lives as a result of the flooding should have at least gotten people to act more thoroughly than has happened in the past as well as now. But no, nothing seems to be done to avoid or remedy this problem. It would actually not be out of the way to ask the Tourism Board to add the flooding to their brochure on Accra, at this rate.
It is beyond tragic that as a country we do not learn from the past, but simply fall back to the proverbial square one. The reactionary steps are structured in such a predictable manner: first there is the expression of grief as people mourn the different tragedies that have directly or indirectly affected them. Then there is talk about the floods, as everyone has probably heard on radio or seen on television in the aftermath of this unpleasant situation. Inevitably, discussions turn toward politics and lambasting people in charge (This is why it is not in the best interest to blame only one government in power for his problem: they are both culpable). On a good day, there will be some half-hearted attempts at responding to the filth that has now become associated with Accra – one wonders if the Tourist Board has a section on filth in their Accra brochure; however, that cleaning crusade loses steam somewhere along the line and everyone goes back to their everyday lives. And thus the sad part of this pattern is that the journey from the reaction to the flood ends right here at this step. Or rather, it diverts back to outpouring of grief the year after, when the rains do their thing again.
Why won’t there be any proactive and more importantly prolonged action taken to avoid these tragic scenes in our beloved nation’s capital? The same solutions are floated along with the debris and fatalities every year: let’s stop building along the waterways, let’s stop with the pollution, let’s build better drainage systems, let’s make sure the roads are better constructed, etc. etc. etc. All these solutions are well and good, but why not sustain both dialogue and action concerning them? Why not talk about and work on this in the dry season? Let us therefore call for a more extensive solution to this problem. Let us work so that next year we will not have this sense of déjà vu again; we have lost enough to the rains.
2013 Update: Linked to the lack of water in urban areas, how feasible would it be to harvest rain water? Anyways that is another question altogether.