Ghana has confirmed accession to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention), becoming the third African country and 44th Party to join the Convention, managed by United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). Ghana also has become a Party to the Convention on the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (Watercourses Convention).
The institutional and legal frameworks of the global Water Conventions facilitate serious efforts for cooperation on shared water resources. Ghana’s accession to the Water Convention follows Chad and Senegal in 2018; Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Cameroon and the Central African Republic are in advanced stages of the national accession process to the Convention. Numerous other African nations are among the 20 countries worldwide who are also considering accession.
Transboundary river basins cover over 75 percent of Ghana’s land surface and generate about 80 percent of the freshwater flow. The Volta River basin is shared with Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Togo with a combined population exceeding 23 million people. The Bia and Tano Rivers are shared with Cote d’Ivoire, and the todzie-Aka basin is shared with Togo.
These water resources support agriculture, hydropower and industrial needs and supply domestic use drinking water and sanitation for a population that is expected to double by 2050. It is estimated that the rivers support between 54 and 85 percent of employment in these Volta basin countries, thereby creating socioeconomic interdependencies in the riparian countries.
Cecilia Abena Dapaah, Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources said, upon the 22 June date of accession, that “Ghana promotes transboundary cooperation as a key means to ensure pragmatic solutions anchored on negotiations and dialogue with her riparian neighbours. The growing effects of climate change and pressure on water resources call for urgent action to deepen existing cooperation.” In addition Dapaah has encouraged the other riparian countries to accede to the two key global Conventions (1992 Water Convention and 1997 Watercourses Convention) in order to strengthen international cooperation and national measures for the sound utilization, management and development of transboundary surface waters and groundwater resources.
UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova has welcomed Ghana on its accession citing the growing political momentum for water cooperation in Africa. She emphasised that the two UN Water Conventions provide a solid foundation for sustainable development, conflict prevention and climate change adaptation across borders. In a statement she said: “UNECE will continue its collaboration with countries, regional and sub-regional organizations to promote and implement the two global Water Conventions. I call on all UN Member States sharing water resources to join and make full use of these instruments”.
Ghana’s accession to the two Conventions follows the recommendation of the Council of Ministers of the Volta Basin Authority in May 2019, underscoring the importance of regional organizations, and in particular basin organizations, in the promotion of the Global Water Conventions.