CIWA in the Volta Basin

April 30, 2014


The Volta River Basin presents both complex dependencies with respect to its natural resources and opportunities for development benefits. Five of the six riparian countries of the Volta River Basin rank among the poorest in the world. All the riparian countries are facing energy shortages and growing demand, paired with food insecurity and high levels of climate variability, including increased risk of floods and droughts. For example, major flooding was experienced in Burkina Faso and Togo several times over the last decade, resulting in damages to transport infrastructure, housing, small dams, and crops.

Historically, a lack of coordination lead to heightened regional tensions over water allocation for irrigation and hydropower development and flood risk. For example, Ghana remains concerned about the functionality of upstream floodgates of the Bagre dam (located in Burkina Faso) on the functionality of the downstream Akosombo dam (located in Ghana). The Akosombo requires 28km3 of the river’s 33km3 average annual flows and is the main source of electricity in Ghana. Water resources management and investment planning at the national level is complicated by uncoordinated unilateral development and management of water infrastructure in the individual riparian countries. These needs prompted the neighboring States to form the VBA in 2007 to promote cooperation in the management and development of shared resources. 

The pressing issues in the Volta Basin include the need to: (i) improve management of water resources factoring in climate variability and change; (ii) restore favorable social and environmental conditions through improved land and water resource practices; (iii) increase incomes through greater agricultural productivity and other related water resources-based activities; (iv) support cooperation and stakeholder participation to strengthen institutional capacities for sound decision making and political and economic stability; and (v) address increasingly competitive water uses and trade-offs among them.



Volta River Basin Institutional Development and Strategic Action Program Implementation Project

Objective: Strengthen transboundary water resources management in the Volta River Basin through institutional development and implementation of priority actions in the basin’s Strategic Action Program.

Partner: Volta Basin Authority. An Executive Directorate in collaboration with the six National Focal Points of the riparian countries and their supporting staff comprise the Volta Basin Authority (VBA), the implementing agency for CIWA-supported projects in the Volta basin. The VBA came into force as a result of a regional Convention for its establishment, which was held August 14, 2009. A notable outcome of this Convention was the commitment voiced by riparian countries to engage in sustainable development and enhance coordination and information sharing with respect to shared water resources. Notwithstanding this important first step, the riparian States have come to realize that cooperation in the Volta Basin is still in its infancy and needs to be supported by capacity, trust, and political will. In addition, evidence-based assessments are needed to strengthen riparian commitment by demonstrating that regional cooperation offers lasting and tangible development benefits. The VBA also faces the challenge of having to build on existing bilateral arrangements among some of the member States. The VBA would benefit from institutional strengthening which would help riparians to establish the legal, fiduciary, and procedural foundation needed to confront the challenges facing the larger basin context.

Key expected results:

  • Implementation of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) that concludes a set of measures that aim to address the basin’s  environmental and water resources challenges identified in the Volta Basin’s Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA).
  • Strengthened VBA procedures for administration and financial management, a clear decision making and reporting hierarchy, and well-defined designs, roles and responsibilities for each arm of the institution.
  • A legal foundation for establishing the roles and responsibilities of riparian countries with regard to water resources use.
  • Improved data collection and monitoring and increased exchange of information on transboundary issues.
  • Improved communication and cooperation between the riparian countries on water resources development.
  • Increased stakeholder engagement.