2030 SDGs

Reversing Ecosystem and Water Degradation in the Volta River Basin

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The Volta River Basin is the ninth largest river basin in sub-Saharan Africa covering a surface area of nearly 398,000 km2. It spreads across six countries in West Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Togo. Sustaining nearly 19 million people who rely either directly or indirectly on its resources, the Volta River Basin is a crucial asset for the development of the riparian countries.

UNEP-DHI is providing technical assistance to a project focused on reversing the deterioration of ecosystems and water resources in the Volta River Basin. The goal of the project is to support integrated ecosystem-based development in the Volta River Basin by enhancing transboundary governance and restoring and conserving ecosystems to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through UN Environment Programme and IUCN, the five-year project is being implemented by the Volta Basin Authority (VBA) and the Global Water Partnership-West Africa (GWP-WA) between 2023-2028.

Background and desired outcomes of the project

Climate change, poverty, rapid population growth, natural resource exploitation, and governance issues in the Volta River Basin are causing numerous environmental challenges that must be addressed collaboratively by the VBA, riparian countries, and the global community. A Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, conducted by the UNEP-GEF Volta Project in partnership with VBA in 2013, identified key environmental issues, including water quantity changes, coastal erosion, invasive species, sedimentation, soil loss, and pollution. These problems have led to ecosystem disruptions, biodiversity loss, reduced water access, flooding, agricultural decline, and socio-economic impacts like poverty, food insecurity, and conflicts.

The project aims to enhance VBA’s technical and institutional capabilities in facilitating collaborative solutions for basin resource degradation among member countries. It will support VBA and its partners in aligning with the Strategic Action Programme (SAP), endorsed by riparian countries in 2014, and other stakeholders involved in its implementation. GEF funds will be utilized to implement crucial SAP Priority Actions, focussing on developing ecosystem-based management tools and implementing on-the-ground stress reduction measures to demonstrate sustainable resource use and management in the basin.

Role of UNEP-DHI in the project

UNEP-DHI is providing technical assistance to the project between 2023-2026. Project outputs that UNEP-DHI is overseeing include developing surface water resources models and decision support tools for transboundary planning and management, establishing community-oriented drought early-warning systems, and ensuring that the Volta Basin Observatory are capacitated to manage and use the decision support tools.

For more information about the project, please contact Laura Comeau at laco@dhigroup.com.


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