WATER RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
Water is an essential resource that has no substitute. It has four main functions in relation to health, habitat, transport and production. The provision of more economic and social services such as water supply,
irrigation, hydropower, fisheries and wetlands protection depends on the improved availability of water resources. But evidence suggests the world is approaching a water crisis. The contributing factors include rapid population growth accompanied by urbanization, climate changes, reduction in the access to safe water and sanitation, falling global water availability, and deteriorating environmental conditions.
Water resources management addresses the connections between resource and service management, the responsibilities of different actors at levels ranging from local watershed management institutions to international basin agencies; the management instruments, including regulatory arrangements; financial instruments; standards and plans; mechanisms for effective participation of stakeholders; and knowledge and information systems.
Water management is a major development challenge in Ghana, resulting in frequent floods, droughts and scarcity. The Volta River for example, remains one of the few international river basins with no legal, institutional, and financial cooperative arrangements to develop and share the potential benefit of the basin’s resource to Ghana and riparian countries. The Government of Ghana and Burkina Faso, together with the riparian countries have set up a Joint Technical Committee on Integrated Water Resources Management advising all parties on issues relating to the conservation, development, and use of Volta basin water resources. It is important the country completes all remaining legal and institutional structures to sustainable use of water from the Volta Basin. But the Volta River needs more than a committee to addressing its numerous development challenges.
Challenges associated with developing and managing water resources are becoming more acute. Climate change and environmental degradation is expected to have diverse impacts on the water cycle, including altered river flows, changes in surface and groundwater recharge, more intense floods and surface runoff, and longer droughts. The forest which filters our water bodies for free is being degraded rapidly and these water sources - rivers, lakes, aquifers and wetlands are rapidly being encroached upon. The inability to predict and manage the quantity and quality of water and the impacts of droughts, floods and climatic variability imposes large costs on economies of many countries, including Ghana.
Tensions over water rights are increasing at the community, basin and country level. Increasingly, many rivers and lakes are being affected by invasive species. Today, about 5 million people living in Ghana experience water stress or scarcity. By 2035, it is projected that half the population, about 18 million people will be living in conditions of severe water stress. Many countries with limited water availability depend on shared water resources, increasing the risk of conflict over these scarce resources.
The most important tool is the development of strategies for the preparation of integrated water resources management in a country. More attention should be focused to protect water bodies, sustainably manage water resources and improve institutional structures. For the case of the Volta basin, the country must develop infrastructure for annual and multi-year flow regulation for floods and droughts, multi-purpose storage, water quality, and basin protection.