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General News | May 19, 2004

18-million dollar Programme on Volta Basin launched

GNA

Accra, May 19, GNA - Agricultural activities along the Volta Basin on Tuesday received a boost with the launch of the 18-million dollar Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research Challenge (CGIAR) Programme on Water and Food in the Volta Basin.

The fund covers 11 projects relevant to the Volta Basin, out of the 50 approved projects under the Programme.

Initiated by the by International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the CGIAR Programme, is a large World Bank global research programme with geographical focus on nine river basins around the globe, including the Volta Basin, addressing issues related to water, food and the environment.

The 15 year programme, with a first phase of five years is expected to create research based knowledge and methods for growing more food with less water, and develop a transparent framework for setting targets and monitoring progress.

Eight of the 11 projects are receiving funds for their immediate implementation, while two more are in the pipeline.

Among the beneficiary institutions are the Savannah Agricultural Research Institute (SARI), the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), with other collaborators as the Water Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other CSIR institutes and universities.

The eight projects receiving funds and the two others for which funds are in the pipeline are: "An enhancement of rainwater and nutrient use efficiency for improved crop productivity, farm income and rural livelihoods in the Volta Basin; empowerment of farming communities in Northern Ghana with strategic innovations and productive resources in dry land farming and improving crop water productivity, food security and resource quality in the sub-humid tropics."

The others are Forests, Water and Land Mosaics to catalyse change in upper catchments, improved fisheries productivity and management in tropical reservoirs, safeguarding public health concerns, livelihoods and productivity in wastewater irrigated urban and peri-urban vegetable faming in Ghana.

The rest are decision support for agricultural investment strategies in the Volta Basin with special reference to informal sector small holding irrigation, integrating knowledge from computational modelling with multi stakeholder governance.

The remaining are planning and evaluating ensembles of small, multi-purpose for the improvement of smallholder livelihood and food security: tools and procedures, Trans water governance for agricultural growth and improved livelihoods in the Volta Basin.

Major Courage Quashigah, Minister of Food and Agriculture, who launched the Programme said the Volta Basin was endowed with water for human needs, but pointed out that it did not receive the kind of treatment commensurate to its usefulness.

He said numerous dams and reservoirs had been built across the 1,400 kilometre stretch of the Volta River, but "the unfortunate situation is that in the extensive capture and use of the Volta water resources is the total lack of coronation in water allocation arrangements among the Basin's constituent countries" of Mali Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana and Togo.

In addition, the demand for water, he said continued to rise due to population growth and yet the quantity and quality of the available water in the 400,000 square kilometre stretch of the Basin continued to decline. He said the management of water where it even abounded was surprisingly disastrous and did not take into account preserving it for future generations, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa.

The situation, he said was worsened because of the absence of any land use plan, particularly in Ghana, resulting in haphazard construction of buildings and other structures in water ways and causing siltation by dumping waste materials in water bodies.

Major Quashigah said it had rather taken a long time to realise that something was wrong, and called for support to the Programme with urgency and seriousness for the sake of future generations.

Professor Dr Frank Rijsberman, Director General IWMI, in an interview said the Programme had five thematic areas of water production, management of water resources, fisheries, integrated river basins and the formulation and pursuance of international water policies such as in the World Trade Organisation.

He said adequate monitoring measures had been put in place, to ensure the judicious use and non-diversion of the funds that came from the 63 member countries of the CGIAR, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organisation and some donor countries.

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