By Prosper K. Kuorsoh, GNA
Accra, Sept. 16, GNA – The Water Resources Commission (WRC) has constituted an eighteen-member board to take charge of the sustainable management of water resources at the Black Volta Basin (BVB) in the Upper West Region.
The Commission chose the BVB as the sixth basin to continue with the process of further developing and implementing viable and sustainable decentralized Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) initiatives in the country.
Members of the board are made up of representative from seven District Assemblies namely, Wa West, Lawra, Nadowli-Kaleo, Sawla-Tuna-Kalba, Banda, Tain and Jaman North.
Others are from six Ministries, Departments and Agencies namely: the Upper West Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Forestry Commission, Minerals Commission and the Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA).
The rest are a representative from the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS), Upper West Regional House of Chiefs, Department of Women and the WRC.
Inaugurating the board in Wa, Alhaji Amidu Sulemana, Upper West Regional Minister, commended the WRC for setting up the coordinating body to manage the affairs of the BVB in the region.
“The BVB Board is the institutional focal point that would lead to a basin-based process for the sustainable implementation of effective measures to improve the water resources of the basin”, he said.
Alhaji Sulemana said a significant number of people in the region depended on the Black Volta River Basin for domestic water supply, agriculture – irrigation, livestock, cottage industries and recreation for their livelihoods.
Regrettably, there are a number of key problems and challenges that negatively affect the sustainable use of the water resources of the Black Volta for the socio-economic development of our people, he said.
These include severe floods that have destroyed farms and other valuable property during wet season, and the long dry season also come with its attendant problems like water shortage, bush fires and general environmental degradation.
The Regional Minister said in recent times, the basin’s water resources have also come under serious siege from the activities and proliferation of illegal mining in various locations.
“All these tend to increase the poverty level of our people and reduce their living standard”, he said.
Alhaji Sulemana said the problems related to the degradation of the BVB and their impact on the water resources, the environment, and community livelihoods have always been a source of concern and called for the need to develop sustainable solutions to them.
He said the Board would assist in the development and implementation of a comprehensive Integrated Water Resources Management Plan for the conservation of water resources of the basin.
It would initiate and coordinate other relevant activities connected with the development of water resources of the basin and assist in investigating, registering and granting of water use permits.
Mr Ben Ampomah, Executive Secretary of the WRC, said the major set-back initially encountered that slowed the pace towards establishing and operationalizing the BVB Board was the absence of the physical presence of the WRC as the facilitating body in Wa.
He said the operations of the Basin Boards was a clear indication that the process of building consensus through effective participation among many interested parties had been successfully initiated and had so far augured well for the required collaboration among other stakeholders.
Mr Ampomah said the Basin Boards have also brought about significant impacts in raising awareness of people through interactions among the stakeholders, particularly the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and District Assemblies whose activities have been given due recognition.
He said over the years one lesson learnt was that there should be room for adaptations in response to the needs and unforeseen requirements as they may unfold during the course of implementation.
The Executive Secretary of the WRC said a major challenge had been how to respond to the frequent replacement of Board members after building their capacity to pursue their roles and functions.