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09.06.2004 Regional News

Minister stresses co-operation among countries

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Ho, June 9, GNA - Alhaji Mustapha Ali Idris, Minister of Works and Housing on Wednesday stressed the need for co-operation between countries along the upper-course of the Volta River, experiencing conflicts over the use of water resources of the lake.

He said that "upstream - downstream partnership" would negate suspicions over exploitation and promote the sustainable use of the resources.

Alhaji Idris made the call in a speech read for him in Ho during the opening ceremony of a "national workshop on promoting co-operation in the Volta Basin through informed dialogue and negotiations." The Minister said just as the Volta River could potentially promote co-operation among countries and regions through which it traverses, it could also be a source of conflict.

He said Ghana's ability to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), just as the other riparian nations, hinges strongly on sustained availability of fresh water.

Alhaji Idris said Ghana's attempts to build another dam at Bui will not be possible if the volume of water from upstream is small. He therefore, commended the efforts at formulating a framework for collaboration in the management of shared water resources in the Volta Basin.

The three-day workshop, which is being organised by the Water Resources Commission (WRC) with the collaboration of the Ministry of Works and Housing is sponsored by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES). Dr Charles Biney, Acting Executive Secretary of WRC said the workshop was part of efforts to establish a permanent mechanism for co-operation in the development of river basins which Ghana shared with its neighbours.

He said participants from the Volta River Authority, the Irrigation Develop Authority, Attorney-General's Department, Environmental Protection Agency and other stakeholders would seek to define roles and responsibilities and establish partnership with other stakeholders in the basin.

Dr Biney said the workshop would also prepare suggestions to strengthen existing bilateral consultation mechanism between Burkina Faso and Ghana which, together share 85 per cent of the total Volta basin area.

He said the result of the workshop would serve as a basis and input for an international workshop to involve the six riparian countries of the basin later this year. Benin, Cote d' Ivoire, Mali and Togo and the other countries within the Volta basin. Mr Owusu-Yeboa, Volta Regional Minister, in a speech read for him said improper land-use pollution and the spread of aquatic weeds were today gradually diminishing the quality and quantity of the Volta River as a resource.

He described the situation as disgusting and called for immediate and urgent remedial action to ensure the river continued to serve the people in the areas of domestic water supply, agriculture including irrigation and fishing, transportation, recreation and electric power.

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