Consulting firms help Ghana with early warning systems

12 August 2014

Royal HaskoningDHV and HKV have been appointed by UNDP to develop disaster risk and early warning systems for Ghana. The project, to be completed in 2015, will be implemented by Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organisation and funded by the Norwegian Government.

Every year, thousands of people in Ghana are threatened by natural disasters, such as floods and droughts. For instance, in 2010 heavy rainstorms caused massive floods which killed dozens of people, made more than 700,000 people homeless and caused direct damages worth millions of dollars. To reduce the country’s vulnerability to extreme climate events, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has recently decided to launch an initiative to develop a so-called ‘early warning system’. “We are supporting the Government of Ghana to become a climate resilient nation and to reduce human losses and damages caused by floods and droughts,” says Rene da Silva, UNDP’s Deputy Country Director in Ghana.

Water Africa

Early warning project
The early warning project will consist of the deployment of the latest state-of-the-art technology to forecast climate hazard events. These forecasts will provide the authorities with increased time to take action, thus saving lives and reducing the social and economic damage caused by floods and droughts. The UNDP-project will cover 9 districts, including, among others, the metropolitan districts of Accra, Kumasi and Cape Coast and the city of Techiman, home to millions of Ghanaians. 

Disaster risk and early warning systems
UNDP has appointed international engineering and project management consulting firm Royal HaskoningDHV and HKV, a Dutch consulting firm specialising in water and safety, to lead the development of the disaster risk and early warning systems. “Our team was chosen because of our expertise in this field and our local knowledge and presence”, says Willem Kroonen, Royal HaskoningDHV’s senior project manager. The consortium will assess both the current situation as well as future scenarios, taking into account climate change and autonomous developments, and design a master plan for the early warning systems.

In addition, they will prepare an inventory of the gaps and needs in data, knowledge and structures. The plan will combine rainfall prediction, model simulation and geographic information to provide regionalised forecasts. The UNDP-project will also evaluate international drought forecasting initiatives and factor in regional vulnerabilities to provide timely warnings for climate events which could threaten food supply to large parts of Ghana. An integral part of the project will consist of capacity building and knowledge transfer.

NADMO - Dry Africa

Local expertise
The two engineering- and consulting firms will work together with SNV Ghana, a non-profit development organisation, and local experts. Together they will assess the risk of natural disasters at the national level and for the mentioned cities and districts. The project, that is expected to be completed in August 2015, is funded by the Norwegian Government and falls under the mandate of Ghana’s National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).

Project in Ghana
It is the second time in a short timespan that a consortium of consulting firms is hired to assist Ghana with a project that can potentially save thousands of lives. Earlier this month, consulting firms Witteveen+Bos and Berenschot, and non-governmental health organisation Simavi were awarded a contract to provide Technical Assistance to the Ghana-Netherlands WASH Programme.