By McAnthony Dagyenga

It was first in 2007, just about 400 persons suffered. Then came the year 2011 (four years later), when the most gigantic disaster occurred. The month was July and the date 19th; the whole of Ghana?s attention was directed towards, among other districts in Eastern Region, the Kwaebibirem district.
UntitledThe entire presidency moved to that part of Ghana because over there, nine communities had been affected, with 2,855 people displaced. They were displaced because heavy flood had either swept away or taken over their abode or broken down where they lived.
Disaster hit Adankrono, Kade, Kade Zongo, Akwatia and Boadua, etc. all in the Kwaebibirem District, when the River Birim and four other rivers overflowed their banks destroying property and rendering that great number of people homeless.

At Adankrono, the Birim River had travelled more than 500 meters from the toll bridge to the town. An incident Nana Sarpong Kumakuma, the Adankronohene, described as ?the worst in living memories.?
Farmers lost their farms, small-scale industries halted, workers could not go to work?in fact, productivity halted in the Kwaebibirem District as well as the other surrounding districts-which included, Atiwa, Birim Central and Fanteakwa among others-because water had usurped the entire area.
Most communities were cut off from the rest of the country, as flood waters blocked access roads leading to those areas.
It was ?diagnosed? that the causes of the flood were as a result of illegal mining called ?galamsey? and indiscriminate feeling and destruction of the forests or trees in that part of the area.
The illegal mining activity had diverted the course of most water bodies that hitherto flowed directly into the main Birim River. Instead of flowing through the boundaries of the rivers, the water rather entered into human habitats.
After that incident, the nation spent huge sums of money to construct a resettlement and provided relief items worth millions of Ghana cedis for all who were affected. Individuals and organizations squeezed their budgets for that year to procure and donate more relief items to augment the government?s efforts to help the victims.
That money could have been used for other purposes if those trees/forests were not destroyed. That money could have been used for other important purposes if the Birim River and other river bodies had not been traded for gold.
Delving further, one realized that the illegal miners and loggers could not have engaged in such acts if the land owners and the chiefs did not give gave out the concessions to them.
That incident went to rest. Victims are still reviving from their losses and barely four years after, on March 6th, 2015, when the nation was celebrating its Independence Day anniversary, another bad news arose from that same Kwaebibirem District.
This time it was not flood, it was rainstorm. On that fateful day too over 400 residents were displaced because the rainstorm had ripped off roofs of over 100 houses and broken down over 15 other houses in three communities- Adankrono, Abease and Kade Zongo.
Four school buildings were also affected by the storm as a result of which pupils would not be in class for a period of days.
When Mr Antwi-Boasiako Sekyere, the Eastern Regional Minister visited the areas affected with the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), it was realized that the storm was able to cause that severe havoc because there were no trees in those areas to serve as windbreaks. Thus, if the trees that made Kaebibirem ?Kwaebibirem? were still there, the storm could have come but that disaster could not have occurred.
No trees in Kwaebibirem?? It is like saying there is no tree in the forest- A forest without trees cannot be called ?forest? but a bush. However, Kwaebibirem had been a forest area. It seemed not possible but it has become possible factually due to irresponsibility on the part of some leaders there.
As a result, the NADMO is now going to contact the Forest Commission to offer tree species to be planted in those parts of the district.
God was never a fool to have made Kwaebibirem a forest area with enormous trees. Everything He created for every area, He saw was ?good? for that area. He was never a fool to endow it with the Birim River and other rivers which have now been polluted to the interesting degree because of galamsey.
The painful aspect is that those who allowed and observed the destruction of the water bodies and the deforestation, knowingly or unknowingly, are making it difficult for the future generation. Kwaebibirem has become ?bald? because of irresponsibility and indiscipline.
As it happened on March 06, no wealthy person or household was affected, but rather it was the poor people, living in weak buildings, who were severely hit and displaced by the storm.
?Kwae? in the Akan dialect means ?forest?. And so the name Kwaebibirem was adopted because of the rich forest nature of that place.
Thus one expected that Kwaebibirem would never be hit by that disaster if it had preserved all that God in His own wisdom endowed her with naturally.
Community leaders, chiefs as well as community members in Kwaebibirem need to work again to restore the glory of that area. They would need to embark on a massive tree planting exercise; they would need to come together to agree that galamsey would never go on there on their lands and on the river bodies again.
Chiefs in that area should never wait for it to occur and then expect political leaders to come to their aid or promise them what is not there.
July is just at the corner. The rains are just beginning and already buildings are collapsing and people being displaced. No one knows what would happen next if the rains fall heavier. A word to the wise?
My focus has been on Kwaebibirem, but Birim Central, Fanteakwa, Atiwa and East Akyem whose leaders almost look idle while galamsey throng in those areas; BEWARE!!

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