A book titled “Dams, Development and Downstream Communities: Implications for Re-optimising the operations of the Akosombo and Kpong Dams in Ghana”, was on Friday launched to facilitate the effective and efficient utilization of water.
The 20 Chapter book with 466 pages, had been grouped into five main parts, and sought to contribute to the global process of shared learning, and further serve as a useful guide to stakeholders in the planning, designing and execution of multi-agency collaborative schemes.
The publication contained some key findings and recommendations from a study undertaken by the Water Resources Commission, together with other research partners, under a project on the re-optimisation and re-operation of the Akosombo and Kpong Dams, from August 2012 to June 2016, funded by the African Water Facility of the African Development Bank.
The book was edited by Professor Yaa Ntiamoa-Baidu, of the Centre for African Wetlands, Mr Ben Yaw Ampomah, the Executive Secretary of the Water Resources Commission and Mr Eric Antwi Ofosu, a Researcher.
In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, the Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, said the development of water infrastructure for accelerating economic development without compromising the livelihood and health of the population as well as the ecosystem, had attracted considerable global interest. The interest, he said, had been driven through the global water vision by 2050, which was to promote the inclusive sustainable development of water to support human communities, maintain functions of ecosystems, and ensure economic development. However, translating the global vision into reality, called for concrete and interrelated actions such as delivering investments in water availability, access, management and optimal use in ways that promoted long-term growth, he said. Mr Adda said a strategic policy focus under the government’s current water agenda, was therefore to introduce innovations to enhance the benefits of existing water infrastructure, develop additional water supplies for diverse uses through investments in new sources, and improve their quality, as well as environmental protection. He commended the Water Resources Commission, the publishers of the book, and all its partners for the initiative, adding that, the knowledge generated, the results, and the recommendations made in the book, mirrored the policy direction of government’s new water agenda. These he said, included the mitigation and adaptive management strategies and the support systems, to improve the livelihoods of downstream communities, and actions to manage outcomes of hydraulic infrastructure such as hydropower dam projects for downstream natural ecosystems and communities. He assured Ghanaians of the Ministry’s readiness to translate such aspiration into solid practical work, and to collaboratively develop and implement obvious cross-functional initiatives for effective outcomes. “We should collectively not let the book gather dust with the business-as-usual approach. It is my expectation and hope that we will reach out of the water box for the new agenda to be meaningfully supported and effectively implemented”, he said. Dr Charles Biney, the Former Executive Director of the Volta Basin Authority, in his review of the book, said the recommended findings, should not only be implemented for the existing dams, but for future dams to be built. The first part of the book focused on the baseline studies, echoing the voices of the communities about the project and also covered fish and fisheries of the lower Volta, to support the knowledge of pre-dam and post-dam conditions. He said the second part of the book has a literature review on the environmental and livelihood flows, as well as climate change impacts within the totality of the Volta basin. Mr Biney said the third part concentrated on the socio-economic aspects of the entire project to livelihoods in the communities, and further touched on the need to strengthen local capacities to handle the changes that may come as a result of the
re-operation and re-optimisation in both the fourth and fifth parts.
The Water Resources Commission led a team of partner institutions, including the Volta River Authority, the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research’s Water Research Institute, the International Water Management Institute, Centre for African Wetlands and the Institute of Environment and Sanitation Studies to execute the project.