The Pra (Offin) Basin is the fourth priority basin that the Water Resources Commission (WRC) has established a River Basin Board and its Secretariat as the decentralized management body to facilitate the implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
This approach is to promote the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources in order to maximize the resultant economic and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.
Pra Basin Characteristics
The Pra Basin is located between Latitudes 50 N and 70 30’ N, and Longitudes 20 30’ W, and 00 30’ W, in south central Ghana.
The drainage network comprises the main Pra and its major tributaries of Birim, Anum, and Offin rivers and their tributaries. The drainage area is about 22,106km2, with an average elevation of about 300m and generally less than 600m above sea level. It features the Lake Bosomtwe, which is a natural lake that stands out as a prominent protected area. It is believed to have been created as a result of a meteoritic impact and is an object of intense interest to both national and international researchers. It is also a significant tourist site.
The entire Pra Basin covers 41 administrative districts made up of:
- 20 in the Ashanti Region,
- 11 in the Eastern Region,
- 6 in the Central Region, and
- 4 in the Western Region.
- The Offin sub-basin is the main source of water supply to Kumasi and its environs, through two reservoirs, namely Barekese and Owabi dams.
- The Birim sub-basin is located predominantly in the Eastern Region and has attractive historic places and nine forest reserves. For instance, the Esen Epan forest reserve near Akim bOda is a tourist site with the biggest tree in West Africa at 12m in circumference and 66.5m tall.
Water Uses of the Pra Basin
The Pra River and its tributaries constitute a major source of water supply to communities within the basin. The major tributaries are perennial and constitute all-year-round reliable water source. However, human activities such as mining, logging etc. are having adverse impacts and degrading the surface water resources of the basin.
The Pra Basin is one of the most extensively and intensively used river basin areas in Ghana in terms of settlement, agriculture, logging and mining.
The basin contains most of the large cocoa growing areas in the Eastern, Ashanti, and Central regions. Tree cash crop cultivation other than cocoa includes mainly oil palm.
Food cropping is more and more commercialized especially around the medium and large settlements and along the major road axes.
The basin contains the highest density of settlements (both rural and urban) in Ghana.
It has a high concentration of mining activities mainly concerned with gold and other ground minerals. Several large scale mining companies in the basin include AngloGold Ashanti, Abore Mining Company Ltd, Resolute Amansie Ltd, Bonte Gold Mines Company Ltd, Narawa Company Limited, etc.
Water Resources Management challenges
Rapid depletion of forest cover for mining, farming, and settlement development. Forest cover outside the reserve areas is negligible and is estimated at less than 2% of the Basin. These forests are heavily logged often with very wide open canopies.
High concentration of mining activities in the upper reaches of the basin, which may dry up the source of the river. Large scale and small scale mining with disruptive impact on surface cover including soils occur around Obuasi and Konongo.
Moderate to severe sheet and gully erosion poses a threat for flooding within the basin. The extensive forest clearance for mining, settlement, and infrastructural development causes considerable loss of soil minerals and subsequent high sediment transport in the Pra and its tributaries.
Encroachment of wetlands and buffer areas by private developers and peri-urban/urban/rural agriculture.
Pollution of the rivers caused mainly by the dumping of refuse especially in large settlements and related industrial waste discharges, unapproved fishing practices and use of agrochemicals in vegetable farming.
The Pra basin Board and Secretariat
A Basin PraBoard of varied stakeholder representation (17 members in total) and its Secretariat has been constituted to address the water resources management challenges by regulating and managing the utilization of water resources in the basin.
Key stakeholders actively participating in management process in the Pra basin include:
Governmental Departments/ Agencies,
Community Based Organizations (CBOs),
Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), and
Planned activities earmarked by the Pra Basin Board are based on two main focus areas:
1. Regulating the water resources of the basin by:
Administering and monitoring compliance of existing regulations i.e. water use regulations (LI 1692) and drilling license and groundwater development regulations (LI 1827) as well as any other regulations adopted from time to time;
Initiating establishment of regulated buffer strips/areas to protect the quality of open water bodies (rivers and lakes) and enhance community livelihood systems
2. Supporting programs targeting the management of water resources such as facilitating:
Stakeholder consultations and networking among partners on IWRM;
Water resource management education and awareness raising;
Completion of an IWRM plan for the basin and initiating implementation of proposed actions/measures; and
Establishment of a biosphere reserve in the Lake Bosomtwe catchment area.
For further information contact:
Water Resources Commission
Pra Basin Secretariat
P. O. Box PC 53
Tel: 032 20 405 17
Fax: 032 20 403 71