THE potential of a major earthquake hitting the country remains high with devastating and costly consequences should it occur, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) has said.
It has, therefore, advocated an immediate full characterisation of the country’s earthquake hazard to assess the likely effects on people and structures, as part of initial efforts to build earthquake resilience.
“Ghana Geological Survey Authority and Ghana Institute of Engineers have to undertake, as a matter of urgency, a robust probabilistic seismic hazard analysis for Ghana. Resources need to be committed to support this course”, the NADMO Director-General, Nana Eric Agyemang – Prempeh, said.
He was speaking at a virtual commemoration of this year’s International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, hosted in Accra yesterday on the theme “Only together…We can save the Planet.”
The day is celebrated on October 13 each year for nations to take stock of their performance in the implementation of the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction developed in 2015.
This year’s celebration is focused on target F of the Framework which calls for enhanced international cooperation to developing countries through adequate and sustainable support.
Nana Agyemang – Prempeh said the country’s potential for a major earthquake stemmed from her history of earthquakes including some very devastating ones like the Accra earthquake which occurred on June 22, 1939, and caused major destructions.
“Since then, other minor earthquakes have been felt in Ghana, even more recently. Every indication points to the belief that the consequence of a major earthquake in Ghana will be devastating and costly. At the same time measures to build resilience will also require a high financial commitment”, he said.
Aside from the hazard analysis, Nana Agyemang – Prempeh, said there was the need to develop and implement a seismic sensitive land use plan; elaborate preparedness and mitigation measures, and a state-of-the-art response system.
“The catastrophic nature of earthquake disaster requires that efforts be gathered to deal with all its facets in an integrated fashion. All of us in Accra are thus vulnerable in so far as we live within the fault zone”, he said.
The NADMO boss , said the government had sponsored the development of a document called a framework for Refocusing Ghana’s Earthquake Preparedness and Response, to give direction in dealing with earthquake risk, and would need the cooperation of all partners as indicated by the theme for the celebration in order to build earthquake resilience.
In a speech read on his behalf, the UN resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, said an analysis by the UN had shown that made-made actions that cause disasters had increased in Ghana and required robust efforts to address the situation alongside the natural disasters, promising to continue supporting the country’s disaster response measures.
On her part, the Deputy Minister for the Interior, Naana Eyiah, said the COVID -19 had brought to the fore the need for collective effort in addressing the risk confronting humanity thus called on developed countries to cooperate with developing countries to address their disaster risks by providing funding and technical support.
Ghana is said to have a major earthquake fault line stretching from the McCarthy Hill area in Accra westwards towards the Central Region and eastwards towards the Akuapem Ridge all the way to the Volta Region.
Parts of the country especially Accra have over the years been shaken by series of earth tremors with the recent one occurring last year June which according to the Ghana Geological Survey Authority (GGSA) signals a looming earthquake of greater magnitude in the future.
It is recalled that President Akufo-Addo in April this year asked the Engineering Council of the Ministry of Works and Housing to conduct a comprehensive integrity audit of all public buildings to enable the government to effectively plan for earthquakes and other natural disasters.
He made the call in Accra at a stakeholder conference to deliberate on the Report of a Committee set up in 2019 by the Interior Ministry to draw a framework for refocusing the country’s earthquake preparedness and response.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR