Monday, October 04, 2010

Forced evictions in Ghana to try to avoid flooding damage

In an effort to minimize damage from future flooding, Ghana is demolishing buildings that are built on water drainage-ways. The demolition of housing has forced hundreds of people to look for another place to live. Most of the people who are subject are suspucious of the Ghana city government true motivations. Some of those evicted say they are not given enough notice, and that it is a violation of human rights.

From Reuters Alert Net, writer Suleiman Mustapha gives us some background on the forced evictions.

In Accra, government officials say homes and businesses built in or along drainage routes are illegal and their owners will be given no compensation if they are demolished. Officials argue adequate warning is being given to home owners.

But residents dispute that assertion.

"This house had been standing here for the past decade and nobody had informed me my house was sitting on a waterway," said Charles Okoe, a 48-year-old businessman whose home in Sakama, a suburb of Accra, was demolished in June as part of the waterway clearing campaign.

Okoe said he was only informed in March that his house was sited on a waterway. He is now staying with friends and family until he has enough money for a new permanent home.

Since June, 30 houses in Sakama have been razed to clear waterways and many more are marked for demolition, Mayor Alfred Vanderpuije said.

Flooding caused by heavy seasonal rains killed at least 35 people in Ghana in June, prompting the crackdown on structures built in or alongside drainage routes.

The volume of flood water was less than a year earlier, when it hit record levels, but the National Disaster Management Organisation, the country's relief agency, said the aftermath of this year's flooding was the worst in recent history.

There have been similar scenes across much of West Africa, similarly hit by heavy rains.

Since June this year, floods and mudslides in the region have killed at least 77 people, destroyed the homes, businesses and farms of over 152,000 others and crushed bridges, roads, schools and other infrastructure in at least eight countries, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

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