A national workshop on dissemination and appropriation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) guidelines for the development of water infrastructure, opened in Accra on Monday.
The two-day event, being organised under the auspices of the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing, is in collaboration with the Water Resources Coordination Centre (CCRE) of ECOWAS, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) of Burkina Faso.
The workshop, which brought together 30 stakeholders whose work is affected one way or the other, by dam projects and their related facilities, is aimed at contributing to the promotion of the best practices at national and cross-border levels in the construction and management of large dams.
Addressing the participants, Mr Ben Yaw Ampomah, Executive Secretary, Water Resources Commission, said many water infrastructure generated multiple and varied negative impacts with far-reaching consequences from the source.
He said in order to minimise these negative impacts, owners of dams and stakeholders, as a whole, needed to take into account the best management practices of water infrastructure.
“To this end, EOCWAS, through its CCRE, launched in late 2008, a regional consultative forum on large water infrastructure projects in West Africa, to help develop a large water infrastructure in West African States,” Mr Ampomah said.
He said that the process of the dialogue on large dams was proposed for larger river basins in the West African sub-region, with the view to maintain the principle of the dialogue at the regional level.
“And this workshop, will help develop a strategy to integrate the guidelines and ECOWAS directive into national regulations, policies and practices targeting the development of water infrastructure at the national scale and cross-border level,” he said.
Dr Kwaku Agyeman Mensah, Minister of Water Resources, Work and Housing, in a speech read on his behalf, observed that dams were the basic infrastructure of support for the economic development of the country.
He, however, cautioned that if not properly managed, it becomes a source of misfortune to the country with its effect being colossal.
Dr Agyeman Mensah lauded CCRE and IUCN for collaborating with the ministry in informing stakeholders at the community, regional and national levels on dams and the relevance of the results to Ghana.
He expressed government’s commitment towards ensuring the effective use of dams as they serve many purposes to the country.
Professor Aboubacar Awaiss, Regional Coordinator, Water and Wetlands Programme, ICUN, said the organisation was working with experts to solicit information that would be used a baseline information towards the guidelines for the country’s progress.
Mr Mohamane Dedeou Toure, ECOWAS CCRE, representative, said the guidelines would help promote socio-economic development of Ghana, especially when some countries share water bodies with the country.
Dr Charles Binney, Acting Executive Director, VBA, called for active involvement of stakeholders in Ghana because it would help promote the country’s development.