The Black Volta is one of the major sub-basins of the Volta River System and is a new transboundary basin established by the Water Resources Commission (WRC) in 2016. It is the sixth after the Densu, White Volta, Ankobra, Pra and Tano Basins for the implementation of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) by the WRC. The focus areas of the basin include but not limited to transboundary water resources management, domestic water, agriculture, energy and mining.
The Black Volta River Basin
The Black Volta River Basin is a trans-national river system that stretches from the north to the south through Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, and from the west to the east, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana. The basin is drained by the Bougouriba, Gbongbo, Grand Bale, VounHou, Sourou, Wenare, Bambassou, Bondami, Mouhoun (main Black Volta), Tain and Poni rivers as main tributaries.
The Ghana portion of the basin covers an area of 18,384 km2 constituting 14% of the basin and six (6) sub catchments including; Lerinord, Nwokuy, Bui, Dapola, Noumbiel and Bamboi. Political administratively, the basin has 26 districts (of the 216 District demarcations) in Ghana. The Upper West Region (UWR) that hosts the Basin Office is about 8,370km2 in the Basin and makes about 6% of the basin & 42% of the portion in Ghana (Annor et al, 2012).
Water Use in the Basin
The main water bodies within the basin consist of the Black Volta River, streams, dams, etc.
A significant number of the basin population depends on the Black Volta River for domestic water supply, agriculture – irrigation, livestock watering and fishing for their livelihood. It is also a source of hydropower generation and supports vital aquatic life.
Apart from the above uses, mining activities have been rampant within the basin especially in the Upper West Region which also requires a significant amount of water. Other water bodies such as dams or reservoirs are being used for aquaculture purposes by NGOs (Canadian Feed the Future/ ACDEP-RESULTS), these dams include the Tanchara, Namberg and Konzakalah dams. The African Connections Ltd, a private company supported by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development through CIDA has mounted cages on the Yipala Reservoir in the Sawla-Tuna-Kalba district of the Northern Region as well as Zoomlion Ghana aquaculture project in Wa West and Nandom in the Upper West Region.
Major towns within the basin rely on surface water for domestic water use supplied by the Ghana Water Company Limited whilst almost all rural communities, rely solely on groundwater as their source of drinking water.
The Black Volta Basin is not different from other basins and so challenges in the area of natural resources depletion, charcoal burning and illegal mining have caused the lost of vegetation within the basin especially in the Upper West Region.
The main challenges facing the Black Volta Basin include:
- Illegal mining
- Siltation of water bodies
- Lack of enforcement of laws
- Water quality (pollution)
- Lack of awareness
- Weak institutional coordination
- Non-availability of water in the dry season
- Lack of funding to sustain water resources management activities
- Lack of information and data
Prior to the process resulting in the establishment of the Black Volta Basin governing structure, a basin office was instituted to implement the principles of IWRM process in the Black Volta basin, the WRC held a consultative stakeholder workshop on the 26th – 27th November 2015 to begin the process. This also provided the platform for stakeholders to identify water resources issues in the Black Volta Basin and proposed actions to address the issues identified. Subsequent workshops would be held towards the development of IWRM plan.
Following the stakeholder workshop that selected institutions for the Black Volta Basin Board, the board was formally inaugurated in Wa, in the Upper West Region, on the 14th of September, 2016, to back the Black Volta Basin Secretariat of the Water Resources Commission.
The Basin Secretariat and Board would pursue the rest of the task towards the development of the IWRM and investment plans for the Basin. They would also focus on establishing the needed collaboration and partnerships towards building sustainable water resources management, climate change adaptation and water resources proposals for implementation. Furthermore, flood and drought early warning in the Basin will also be considered.
The Secretariat has since its inception been implementing and monitoring compliance of existing regulations i.e. water use regulations (LI 1692) and drilling license and groundwater development regulations (LI 1827) by undertaking regular and continuous inspection of water abstraction points and processing applications.
The Secretariat has already initiated moves to identify and get small scale water users registered by sensitizing, advising and taking water users through the permitting process to regularize their water uses. There has been positive response from companies who have drilled their own boreholes.
Some of the major water users in the basin include but not limited to:
- Bui Hydropower Authority
- Babator Framing Company
- Azuma Resources Limited
- Ghana Water Company Limited
- African Connections
- Canadian Feed the Future/ ACDEP- RESULTS Project
- Zoomlion Ghana
Public Awareness and Education
The secretariat as part of its activities undertook public awareness and educational activities such as sensitizing water users within the basin and educating stakeholders within the water sector during workshops and meetings.
Water Resources Commission
Black Volta Basin Secretariat
P. O. Box 46, Wa
Tel: +233(0) 207855495
Location: First floor of Controller and Accountant General Building, Ministries, Wa