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The National Secretariat of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG)  has set up a ‘UTAG Educational Support Fund’ with a seed capital of GHc200,000 to enable students from the affected communities of the dam spillages return to campus to continue their education.

The fund targets needy students from flood-affected communities studying in any of UTAG’s 15-member universities (University for Development Studies, University for Professional Studies, Accra, UPSA, University of Cape Coast, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, KNUST, University of Ghana, University of Health and Allied Sciences, University of Mines and Technology, University of Education Winneba, University of Energy and Natural Resources, University of Media, Arts, and Communications, A.A.M University of Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Development, CKT University of Technology and Allied Science, SDD University of Business and Integrated Development Studies, Ghana Communications Technology University and the University of Environment and Sustainable Development.”

UTAG National President Professor Mamudu Akudugu during the release of UTAG’s report on the assessment it did on the flood, on Friday, November 24, 2023 in Accra said “the fund will also provide teaching and learning materials for some of the schools in the affected communities.

“A Committee of distinguished colleagues has been set up  to manage the fund and will be  announcing the modalities and how  needy students from the affected communities  in the 15 member universities can access the support.”

UTAG in its report on the flood said among other things that there was the need for a more detailed hydrological, hydrogeological, and flood risk assessment (FRA) of the Lower Volta basin using some of the communities affected by the flood including Mepe.

UTAG also asked authorities to “conduct interviews to establish in detail, the flood extent, and its impact on: drinking water availability and quality, buildings, road networks as well as environmental sanitation. Carry out remote sensing analysis to establish the extent of flooding or inundation. Carry out a hydrological model to assess the water balance and impact of climate change on the hydrologic response of the Volta basin (Upstream and Downstream), Carry out hydraulics modeling to simulate different scenarios of spillage and the corresponding flood inundation/extent downstream, develop a flood prediction model using different scenarios of spillage from VRA.”

UTAG commissioned a team to assess the flood situation and its impact on education. The team visited all the affected areas as part of its fact-finding mission.

The emotional and psychological impact of the disaster on students was examined by the team.

“The participants were unanimous that they constantly live in fear. They were concerned about the fear of the flood occurring again. Others were anxious about the effect the continuous closure of the schools was going to have on their academic achievements. A boy in one of the groups articulated the concerns of the group when he wondered if they were going to catch up for the period of contact hours lost and whether the Ministry of Education was going to give them special dispensation to recover the lost period.

“Another traumatic experience for the students was the fear of the flood coming again. ‘We are always afraid when we see the clouds gathering. I always ask my mum whether the flood is coming again.’ These sentiments were re-echoed in the other FGD. The emotional and psychological impact of experiencing the flood disaster affected students’ ability to concentrate and engage in meaningful learning,” the assessment report said.

Following the assessment, UTAG has made a number of recommendations.

It said the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) and other relevant stakeholders who make food donations to the flood victims should consider diversifying the kinds of foods they provide to meet the nutritional needs of the victims so as not to aggravate the existing poor nutrition situation of under children under five years and other vulnerable groups in the communities.

“The Ghana Health Service in the District should provide basic health screening services. Continuous nutrition education on the preparation of healthy and safe foods for young children. The health facilities in the area are advised to stock up on malaria rapid diagnostic test kits and medications. NADMO, NGOs and other stakeholders should make insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) available to the victims. ITNs should currently be emphasised among the displaced populations in the safe camps housing thousands of people.

“The Ghana Health Service should provide psychosocial first aid for victims, especially in the safe camps. Measures should also be put in place to provide long-term psychological intervention, which experts should plan and execute. This can only be possible if mental health is prioritised by resourcing the mental health units in the affected districts with personnel and medicines.”

“In the area of education, UTAG recommended that “The Ghana Health Service should consider revising the academic calendar of the affected communities. There may also be the need for the teaching and learning hours to be extended to make for the lost contact periods.

“Teachers and students should also benefit from psycho-social support or counselling. This will relieve them of the stress and anxiety they are currently experiencing.

“While the distribution of relief items is important for response and recovery, specific education items like textbooks, exercise books and other teaching and learning materials should be distributed with urgency so teaching and learning do not suffer.

“Overall, early warning sign mechanisms should be re emphasized. Such an approach should be an integrated one and should involve the community members. early warning strategies should include students and teachers. This can help such an activity get the needed traction it deserves. It is through this that the effects of future disasters can be minimised.”

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