An integrated approach to Flood and Drought Management in the Volta Basin
Over the last 20 years, some two million people along the stretch of the Volta have been affected by floods – mainly the 68% of the population working in the agricultural sector.
The Volta River Basin covers a region of about 400 000 km2 with a population of approximately 29 million. The Volta Basin runs through the semi-arid to sub-humid areas of six countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, and Togo. The Basin is highly vulnerable to meteorological and hydrological events. Baseline socio-economic issues in the region are today exacerbated by considerable changes in the climate over recent decades – a reduction in precipitation and temperature increase. And the climate is expected to keep changing. Scientists predict that the dry seasons will be longer and drier, while the monsoon seasons will become shorter with more intense precipitation. If climate change adaption measures are not implemented, food security will be threatened, farmers will lose their livelihood and the number of people living in informal settlements in the high-risk flood-prone zones of urban centers will increase.
National agencies in the Volta Basin countries, mainly National Hydrological and Meteorological Services (NMHSs), are acutely aware of the need to prepare the region for the socio-economic and environmental impacts of climate change. They identified the implementation of integrated water resources management strategies and the development of risk maps and early warning systems as priorities to increase resilience and ensure sustainable development in the region. Other needs identified include the integration of disaster risk reduction strategies into national development and climate adaptation plans, the enhancement of synergies and coordination mechanisms at regional, national, and local levels to foster integrated flood and drought management, and the availability of standardized data, especially real-time data, and the development of coordinated information channels and procedures for end-to-end early warning system. At the ground level, communities at risk require training and knowledge on early warning systems and strategies to manage disaster risks and get actively involved in preparedness and contingency plans.
WMO, in partnership with the Volta Basin Authority and the Global Water Partnerships (GWP)-West Africa, with the support of the national agencies of the six riparian countries developed and submitted a regional climate adaptation project proposal covering all of these aspects to the Adaptation Fund. The proposal, for US$ 7.92 million, was endorsed by the Adaptation Fund Board for implementation in October 2018.
The Volta Basin project uses an integrated approach to strengthen targeted national agencies and community level resilience and adaptation capacity to the impact of climate change events – floods and drought. It is based on the framework for Integrated Flood Management (IFM) and Integrated Drought Management (IDM), which has been promoted by the Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) and Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) for the past 17 years.
The four-year Volta project, officially launched in June 2019. The main objective is to assist the six countries in the implementation of coordinated and joint measures to improve their existing flood and drought management plans at the regional, national, and local levels. This will be achieved by building on the lessons learned from the past as well as on current and ongoing projects related to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
PROJECT OBJECTIVES AND COMPONENTS
The project has three specific objectives:
Develop capacity and established frameworks at the local, national and regional levels to ensure risk-informed decision-making
Develop concrete adaptation and environmentally-friendly actions using an integrated approach
Strengthen policy and institutional capacity for integrated flood and drought management at the local, national and transboundary levels.
These will be delivered through three components: risk prevention, concrete adaptation, and stakeholder engagement, and governance.
Current and future areas of vulnerability, capacities for flood and drought management, exposures, and risks (defined as VCERs in the project proposal) information will be identified in the first component to develop local, national, and regional flood and drought risk maps. During capacity building sessions, climate scenarios will be gathered and disseminated to stakeholders, together with the risk maps, to study the possible impact of climate change on the zones identified. Stakeholders’ recommendations on these will be integrated into the climate change adaptation approaches and disaster risk strategies. Indicators and tools will also be provided to stakeholders to raise awareness of how the ecosystem functions to our benefit as human well-being and the importance of protecting and restoring them. These tools will help stakeholders to contribute to preserving wetlands and other areas of transboundary importance such as biodiversity hot-spots.
The second component will provide the basis for an integrated flood and drought management approach in the region, through the data and information systems and the early warning systems that will be put in place in the Basin. The development and implementation of the End-to-End Early Warning System for floods and drought at the scale of the Volta Basin is the key output of the project. The open-source myDewetra.world platform will be used to connect the meteorological, hydrological, climatological, VCERs databases and other validated outputs, such as hydrological modeling systems, decision support, and early warnings, from related projects and initiatives at the local, national and regional level. To improve the sharing of information, the Early Warning System will cover the complete risk reduction value chain – from vulnerability and risk mapping to forecasting, warning dissemination, and decision support. The operational use of the new End-to-End Early Warning platform will be supported by a series of pilot tests in various sub-basins and vulnerable areas, which have diverse socio-environmental conditions. Capacity development activities will be carried out to ensure adequate uptake of the new products, services, and tools. Moreover, self-help modules on nature-based solutions and gender-sensitive participatory approaches will be developed at the local and national levels.
“…each of the Volta Basin countries must have Hydrometeorological information to prevent and manage the harmful effects of climate change. But also and above all take steps to offer better living conditions to the populations living in the Volta Basin.”
- Colonel Martial Mé, representing the Minister of Water and Forests, Côte d’Ivoire at the project Inception workshop
Component 3 will explore the benefits of the project’s implementation to revise or develop new policies, plans, and guidelines on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Adaptation measures and strategies that align with environmental and social policies as well as with gender principles will be discussed at local levels to increase resilience to floods and drought. The participation and engagement of local stakeholders will facilitate the adoption of the strategies for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and result in long-term sustainability.
STATUS AND EXPECTED RESULTS
Implementation of the Volta Basin Flood and Drought management project started at the Inception workshop held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on 25 and 26 June 2019. The first step was to understand the current capabilities and needs for the End-to-End Early Warning System for Floods and Drought through the carrying out of national consultation meetings with stakeholders in the six countries. The MyDewetra.world platform – fully integrated with existing information and products for floods and drought management – will be rolled out to stakeholders at the end of the first year, in June 2020.
Tentative Pilot SitesFigure 2: Tentative pilot sites for testing the End-to-End Early Warning System
The project will develop the underlying capacity of national and regional institutions to maintain long-term sustainability and to scale up the results. It will support stakeholders at all levels by providing policy and management guidance and by sharing scientific information, knowledge, and best practices for Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. The six riparian countries will benefit from a basin-wide transboundary management framework to ensure long-term environmental and economic development. The region will have concrete solutions to alleviate a potential increase of vulnerability due to climate change and to build an effective network of actors to address climate adaptation issues.
The project’s wide training curriculum – covering aspects ranging from hazard and risk mapping, water resources management, hydrological outlooks, community-based flood management, agrometeorology, integrated drought management, etc. – will provide technical support and new decision-support tools for national operational centers.
The joint activities of the partner organizations, such as requirements specifications, installation of equipment in the NMHSs and provision of new information to the public, fieldwork in the pilot testing locations will also foster exchanges, create groups of users, and form trainers, who will take up project ownership in the future and prolong the project efforts.
The long-term sustainability of the project achievements will be dependent on the meteorological, hydrological, and climatological data and related products from the NMHSs of riparian countries. Several – as well as other agencies in charge of environmental protection – have already provided support letters to ensure the long-term transfer of information from the national databases to continue operations of the forthcoming transboundary Early Warning System coordination unit.
International organizations and financial institutions will be invited to follow the project success stories and to identify other needs at local, national, and regional levels. These will potentially lead to new funding sources or develop synergies with other on-going and future projects in the six countries.
Mr. Benjamin Amopomah, Executive Secretary of Water Resources Commission and also the chairman of today’s workshop project which took place at coconut grove hotel, also gave his speech and he said,
I am grateful to be with you at this opening of the National Technical Workshop for the Presentation of Results and Recommendations of the Assessment of Strengths
and Weaknesses in terms of Flood and Drought Forecasting and Warning in the Volta Basin.
I wish all participants, especially those who have traveled from Ouagadougou, a warm welcome and a pleasant stay with us here in Accra, during the two-day
National Technical Workshop.
Ghana, like the other member states of the
Volta Basin countries, and the other countries of the sub-region, has not been spared the adverse effects of climate change in the form of disasters – floods and droughts – with significant damage including loss of human lives.
However, an old aged adage that has been adopted as a strategy for the survival of mankind is that ‘while the forces of nature are impossible to master, it is possible to master ways to reduce the impacts of natural disasters’.
I hope this strategic thinking should guide us and informed the government to take some pragmatic steps to minimize the impacts of floods in the northern part
of Ghana especially in the White Volta and Oti basins.
Accordingly, some initiatives have been undertaken and the results have been good. For instance, in 2016 a Flood Early Warning System (FEWS) was developed for the
White Volta Basin for accurate flood forecasting in the White Volta Basin. In 2017, a flood forecasting model and FEWS Early Warning System were also developed and tested for the Oti River Basin, which is a transboundary model for both Ghana and Togo, to ensure the effective management of floods in the Basin.
Besides, in 2018 a Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) for the country was developed and tested for drought forecasting in the Northern Region to ensure
the effective management of droughts in Ghana. Additionally, baseline assessment and gap analysis of drought management and forecasting were
completed and a climate vulnerability assessment of the agricultural section focusing on dry season management and planning was developed.
However, we acknowledge that more needs to be done especially in terms of upscaling existing disaster risk reduction systems, replicating in other basins at the
national and transboundary level, and building capacities in resilience and adaptation at the local level.
We are therefore gratified at recent efforts to strengthen the capacities of the agencies and communities concerned in terms of resilience and adaptation to the
impacts of climate change (flood and drought) based on an integrated approach and to ensure sustainable socio-economic development. In particular, the Adaptation Fund support towards “Integrating Flood and Drought Management,
and Early Warning for Climate Change Adaptation in the Volta Basin (VFDM)”, which is to enable the six countries of the Volta Basin to implement coordinated and joint
measures to improve their existing regional, national and local level management plans and to draw on lessons learned from previous and current projects on disaster
risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
I am reliably informed that it is being executed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in collaboration with the Global Water Partnership, West
Mr. Benjamin Amopomah concluded by expressing profound gratitude to the Adaptation Fund for the
funds provided and sincere thanks to the GWP/WA and the World Meteorological Organization for their support to the Volta Basin.
On that note, I declare open the National Technical Workshop for the Presentation of Results and Recommendations of the Assessment of Strengths and weaknesses in terms of Flood and Drought Forecasting and Warning in the Volta Basin.