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Akosombo Dam spillage: the story of a mother and her nine-day-old baby

So far, in collaboration with NADMO, the VRA has provided relief items, such as canned food, rice, sugar, toiletries, boats, hot meals to the flood victims

Over 8,000 individuals are displaced in Mepe – the epicenter – in the North Tongu district of the Volta Region following the Akosombo Dam spillage last Wednesday.

The victims have been evacuated to St Kizito Senior High School to seek shelter in classrooms and dormitories since the school is on vacation.

Many of the victims are children, women and the aged, who are depending on donations from benevolent people and relief items from the Volta River Authority (VRA), the managers of the dam and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).

Among the victims is a 30-year-old nursing mother, Semabia Awlime.

Sitting quietly in an emergency health centre situated in the camp, one can easily tell Awlime is battling with a health problem.

She’s the first person to come to see health professionals on Monday morning. In her arms is a newly born baby boy.

In my interaction with her, Awlime told Asaase News that she used to sell  buffloaf (deep-fried bun loaf) before the disaster occurred, now she is homeless and jobless.

“We’re not doing well,” Awlime said undertone in reference to her baby.

According to her, she gave birth on Sunday (8 October) and the flood visited them on Monday (9 October) evening.

“We were asked to come to Kizito (the safe haven) and so we came here on Wednesday,” she added.

In Ghanaian culture, a newborn baby is outdoored and named seven days after birth but that’s not the case for Awlime’s son due to the disaster.

The newly born baby is not her only child. She already has five other children and they’ve also moved into the camp with her including Awlime’s parents and parents in-law.

Awlime’s children are among several children who are not in school due to the disaster.

“I am feeling severe pains in my abdomen and my back, that’s why I’ve come to see the nurses,” she told Asaase News.

She said she’s been sleeping on one of the corridors of the school blocks for more than six days, adding that they are exposed to mosquitoes.

“I am suffering and my baby as well, my main problem is the mosquitoes. We’re sleeping in an open place (the corridor) and the mosquitoes are biting us, especially in the night so now I am scared my baby is having malaria that’s another reason why I am here for the nurses to attend to him,” Awlime said.

Awlime’s fears keep heightening because her child is yet to be immunised.

Emefa Hokpa is a mental health coordinator at the North Tongu health directorate. She’s in charge of the emergency health centre in the camp.

She assisted one of the nurses to immunise the baby and after that, she attended to the nursing mother and transferred her to the Battor Catholic Hospital for further medical attention.

Hokpa and her colleagues have provided family planning services including counseling to several adolescent girls in the camp.

Awlime’s request

“We’re suffering from hunger, the food they’re giving us is not enough,” she said. “Sometimes I’ve to queue and those in charge use disparaging comments on us, which is bad.”

After a deep breath, Awlime pleaded with officials to make more food available to them, adding they also need mosquito nets or repellants and clothes.

“If someone wants to help my baby with toiletries, detergents and other items a baby need, I’ll be glad,” she said.

Government’s intervention

Since the day the disaster occurred, the government through NADMO and VRA gave more than 1000 packs of relief items which includes cooking oil, biscuits, bags of rice, rubber bowls and buckets, mattresses and used clothes.

The deputy CEO in charge of engineering and operations, Edward Obeng Kenzo said the VRA will continue to provide the needed support while they also dredge the lake for easy flow of water into the sea.

“By the end of this quarter, we’ll get about three dredging companies dredging the lower Volta Lake,” he said.

Commodore Kwafo of the Naval Base in Nutekpo said, the Ghana Armed Forces, Navy and the Air Force personnel have been deployed to provide support to the victims.

For her part, the deputy Health Minister, Tina Gifty Naa Ayele Mensah said the ministry is “doing well” to provide support to everyone.

President Nana Akufo-Addo visited the worst affected areas on Monday to sympathise with the victims and promised them of government’s continuous efforts to alleviate their plight.

President Akufo-Addo meets residents of Mepe displaced by the Akosombo Dam spillage, together with the Volta Regional Minister, Dr Archibald Yao Letsa
President Akufo-Addo addresses inhabitants of Mepe in the Volta Region

“Anything that you need to let me know, this man (Volta regional minister) let him know and I’ll get to know,” he said.

 

Reporting by Albert Kuzor in the Volta Region

 

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