On Friday 3 November 2023, the Volta Basin Authority (VBA) organised a workshop in Ouagadougou to launch the study “Drawing up an inventory of national flood management policies and strategies”.
Through this study, participants from Burkina Faso and Ghana will improve their knowledge of flood management strategies, policies and mechanisms.
The meeting will also provide an opportunity to identify, take stock of and compile statistics on flooding in the sub-basin. Water from the Bagré dam flows into Ghana. At times, floods are recorded on the Ghanaian side.
This causes conflicts with Ghana, which often accuses Burkina Faso of having opened or closed the sluice gates (a device used to stop or modify the flow of a fluid) of the dam too much.
That’s why this study comes at just the right time, because the players involved are going to remedy the situation by brainstorming and exchanging information. They are going to work in synergy, so as not to pass the blame on to each other, but to share ideas that will serve as recommendations for these two neighbouring countries, which have interests in common.
“The Volta basin has enormous potential, but is also facing huge challenges, including flooding. Floods cause a lot of damage in the Volta basin. As the Volta basin authority, it was only natural that we should get involved in flood management. This study will help to reassure the various stakeholders and to mitigate the effects of flooding to some extent,” explained ABV deputy executive director Dr Dibi Millogo.
The White Volta river flows through Burkina Faso and Ghana. The Black Volta is a river that flows through Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana. Hydro-climatic disaster expert Dr Rafatou Fofana recalled that VBA had organised a forum for the exchange of data between the Ghanaian and Burkina Faso sides. Despite this, differences persisted. She therefore welcomed the implementation of this study, which will enable all parties to face up to their responsibilities. “Everyone has come to present the statistics relating to flooding events in their area. This will make it possible to produce a summary that will shed light on the responsibility of those involved and of climate change. When you don’t keep track of all the events, and more specifically the changes in hydro-climatic parameters, you can accuse the other party of being responsible for the problem. But it’s a question of not knowing what’s going on scientifically. In the end, everyone will be able to inform their authorities”, she explained.
For one of the representatives from Ghana, Dr Joachim Ayiiwe Abungba, it was a good idea to come and share experiences and learn from Burkina Faso’s innovations in this area. “We need to work together to reduce the risk of flooding, which is bad for people and has a negative impact on the economy of countries,” he said.
The ABV is responsible for transboundary water management. The organisation comprises six African countries, including Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Mali, Ghana and Togo. The authority’s mission is to enable the populations that share the basin to work in synergy to manage natural resources in the face of the ever-growing challenge of climate change.
Following the launch of the study, Salifou Dene, a data and information expert at the VBA, said: “We are going to carry out fieldwork, which will consist of a documentary review and a number of activities to gather information on national flood management policies. Our study area is a delicate one, as there are sometimes differences in language between these two states”, he explained.
These activities are part of phase two of the GMES & Africa programme (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security). This initiative is funded by the European Union and the African Union. The aim is to provide reliable and timely services on environmental and security issues on a sustainable basis, to meet the needs of users and public authorities alike.
VBA is participating in this programme in the field of natural disasters with the consortium: Sustainable management of wetlands and floods to strengthen food security and ecosystem resilience in West Africa (GDZHIAO).