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Flooding in Ghana: climate change and rising waters

2023 Flooding in Ghana

Image Credit: Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.

Ghana has been grappling with a series of environmental challenges as a result of climate change. Flooding in Ghana is a major concern. The country has witnessed an alarming increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, particularly heavy rainfall, that often results in leading to flooding. This consequence of this flooding is displacement, loss of lives and damage to infrastructure.

2023 Flooding in Ghana Caused by Volta Dam Spillage

Recent heavy rains in eastern Ghana have triggered severe flooding in the region, with approximately 26,000 individuals being displaced from their homes. The floods resulted from the controlled spillage of water from the Akosombo and Kpong hydroelectric dams, causing extensive damage to homes, crops, and infrastructure.

While no casualties have been reported, the flooding has had a significant impact on the affected communities. Residents were taken by surprise as they received inadequate notice about the impending spillage, leaving them unprepared for the deluge.

Crops have been destroyed, schools have been closed, and the floods have disrupted electricity supply to various areas. Authorities are only beginning to assess the full extent of the damage.

Ghana’s navy has been actively involved in rescue efforts and has already saved over 8,000 residents in the Volta Region. President Nana Akufo-Addo has established a committee to coordinate ongoing rescue and relief efforts.

The Akosombo and Kpong Dams, which generate a substantial portion of Ghana’s energy, had their spillage rates reduced to prevent further flooding while closely monitoring the water levels upstream.

Ghana’s meteorological service has forecast more rains in the coming year, attributing the unpredictable rainfall patterns to climate change. The situation underscores the need for both short-term relief and long-term strategies to mitigate the impact of climate change in vulnerable regions.

The Volta Regional House of Chiefs has urgently appealed for immediate measures to prevent further damage, restore essential services, and provide support to the affected communities. They continue to monitor the situation and seek solutions to address the challenges posed by the ongoing flooding crisis.

Flooding in Northern Ghana

Northern Ghana, in particular, has experienced a series of major floods in recent years, with notable occurrences in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2021. The 2010 flood alone affected over 100,000 people, underlining the severity of these events. The primary factors behind these devastating floods have been attributed to a combination of heavy rainfall and the controlled release of water from the Bagre Dam located in Burkina Faso.

On August 12, 2023, four farmers met a tragic end on the western side of the Golinga Irrigation Dam, near Nyankpala in the Tolon District of the Northern Region. Their lives were lost while attempting to cross the dam using a canoe. In 2021, five individuals tragically drowned within 24 hours in two districts of the North East Region.

Flooding in Southern Ghana

Starting around June 2023, the Volta Region experienced flooding that displaced approximately 3,000 people in the Keta Municipal District. Later in the Ashanti Region, between June 21 and 22, 2023, flooding incidents in Atafoa, Sepaase, and Tafo resulted in the loss of four lives. Conditions were perilous, particularly near rivers. On June 24, 2023, a government official died while attempting to cross a flooded river in Kumasi. The Western Region saw around 50 homes damaged in the Ahanta West Municipal District. The Bonsa River overflowed and this affected several homes in the Tarkwa-Nsuaem Municipal district. On June 24, 2023, when three individuals lost their lives while attempting to traverse the flooded Subri River in Daboase, Wassa East District.

The year 2022 had its share of flooding woes as well, with more than 500 homes affected by flooding in Ashalaja, Greater Accra Region. Residents pointed fingers at an estate developer for exacerbating the situation by allowing water from the Densu River to inundate the area.

While flooding remains a perennial issue in Ghana’s largest cities, Accra and Kumasi, it is crucial to recognize that a significant part of this challenge stems from inadequate urban planning and drainage systems.


Addressing these challenge of flooding requires approaches that combines improved urban planning, robust drainage systems, and climate-resilient infrastructure. Furthermore, raising awareness about climate change and especially among the youth is important. The Government of Ghana and its international partners must work together to empower citizens to adapt to the changing climate, and develop strategies to safeguard vulnerable communities.


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