Does Ghana have disaster resilience?

With the advent of modernity, men have been observing what makes life comfortable and what sometimes make it miserable.

Things that make life miserable include disasters like earthquakes, floods, volcanoes, drought, fires, landslides, tsunamis, lightning, Insect infestations and epidemics.

Those among men who seek the common good of humanity have studied disasters and even the zones or places where natural disasters occur are using their knowledge to guide certain precautions and actions.

They have also classified other disasters such that we have workplace, domestic and road accidents, for instance, and how to treat them.

Besides, there are days to mark related hazards or risks. For instance, yesterday was International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction, a day annually marked on October 13 to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.

Since disasters, especially the natural ones, cannot be prevented, the best option is to find ways to reduce their impacts in terms of loss of lives and destruction of property and the resultant negative social and economic impacts.

This is a good basis for celebrating the day yesterday because since certain disasters are zone- or place-specific, the day is significant in reminding particular peoples of what to expect and what to do accordingly.

For instance, during a virtual event in Accra yesterday to demonstrate the country’s commemoration of the Day, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) announced that there was the high potential of a major earthquake hitting the country with devastating and costly consequences.

It takes scientific observation to make such predictions and the historic seismic information given by NADMO’s Director-General, Nana Eric Agyemang-Prempeh, should be treated with the attention it deserves.

He says the prediction is based on the country’s history of earthquakes, including  devastating ones like that of Accra which occurred on June 22, 1939.

Specifically, the Ghanaian Times can inform the Ghanaian public that in that Accra earthquake17 lives were lost and 135 injured besides serious damage to buildings.

Many more can die or be injured, with the damage to property building becoming more overwhelming because today in Accra, there are many more people and more buildings have sprung up and over-clustered.

We should note that even though earthquakes can be predicted,  the exact times they would occur are hard to determine.

This is why precautions like where to or not to build and the nature of the building are very important.

Japan is said to be an earthquake-prone country but the Japanese have taken the necessary precautions with regard to the nature of building and open spaces tor people to assemble.

It is a huge pity that in Ghana, our communities are built-up with hardly any open spaces designated for assembling should an earthquake occur followed by after-shocks.

The theme for yesterday’s event was ‘Only together…We can save the Planet’, and it takes the government and its agencies for disaster management to lead the way.

NADMO is saying there should be 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 and that “the 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.”

Such analysis cannot be discounted because we live in a country where no serious attention is paid to housing, with most houses built any way anyhow by the owners.

How safe are the people should a devastating earthquake occur at night, when many are asleep?

Is it too late to take precautions?

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