Akosomba Dam Spillage: A Call for Action

The Akosombo dam which is also known as the Volta dam was built between 1961 and 1965 as a hydroelectric dam on the Volta River in South-eastern Ghana.  We can recall from history that the construction of the dam flooded part of the Volta Basin which led to the subsequent creation of Lake Volta Reservoir. This flooding caused a lot of havoc by displacing a lot of people of about 80,000 from their settlement. The relocation of these people was under the direction of the Volta River Authority. The dam is significant for providing the majority of both Togo and Benin’s electricity. 

The dam was constructed to contain a maximum lake level of 84.73m (278.0ft) and minimum of 73.15m (240.0ft). Increasing demand of power let to the construction of the Kpong dam, downstream from Akosombo and further upgrades to Akosombo. However, the increasing demand of power exceeds production by current infrastructure. This can also be attributed to the overall trend of lower lake levels being observed at some points, sometimes below the requirement for operation of the dam. 

In 2007, there were concerns about the shortage of power supply as a result of the lower water level of the dam. This died down after there was a heavy rainfall in the latter half of the year. However, in 2010, the highest –ever water level was recorded at the dam. This led to the spillage of the dam for several weeks causing flooding and displacement of people downstream. Some of the impacts of this spillage in 2010 are as follows;

  1. This led to the reduction in agricultural productivity along the lake and its surroundings
  2. Increase in disease prevalence due to stagnant water in the villages due to the spillage
  3. Individuals were deprived of access to adequate healthcare, education, water, food and many others.
  4. Unfavourable resettlement conditions.

After this spillage in 2010, there were a lot of relief items being sent to affected areas in order to keep them going and also live life. However, I go ahead and ask myself, “were there appropriate measures put in place in case this situation is to come up again?” “How are we going to address issues like this in the coming years to save life and properties?”

But unfortunately in September 15 and October, the VRA conducted another controlled spillage of water of the Akosombo and Kpong dams which caused more than a double of the havoc being encountered in 2010. The National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) stated that residents were cautioned earlier following the commencement of the spillage. But the question is; “how was this communication conducted and what were the measures put in place to support the residents with new settlement”

According to Graphic Online, this is believed to be the eleventh (11th) spillage after the inauguration of the Akosombo dam in 1965. This again has caused lot of damage to livelihood such as halted education for students in the affected areas, deprivation to healthcare, food, good water, shelter and among others. 

It is believed that high level of water at the dam can cause the systems to shut down which is the reason for the spillage at some point. The Energy Minister Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh, stated emphatically on the floor of Parliament on 8thNovember, 2023 that “VRA may spill water from Akosombo dam again if water rises”. This has led me to be asking the questions below;

  1. Are we going to continue to caution people to leave their place of settlement when another controlled spillage is to be carried on again without taking necessary action of relocating them to save lives and some equipment to prevent investing huge amounts to cater for people?
  2. Are relief items going to be supplied every time this occurs whereas we could support people with settlement far away from the prone areas?
  3. Can we build another reservoir to help accommodate the excess water when the need arises?
  4. Will the inter-ministerial committee set by government do the needful and at what pace?

What Are We Doing as a Nation?

Article by

Asamoah Kwaku Junior

He has a degree in Economics and researcher at the Center for Economic Freedom Policy & Development at YAFO Institute. He is also the Development Manager at the Institute and liaises with the entire team to oversee growth projects by creating development plans and identifying market opportunities. 

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