Voice of America (Washington, DC)

22 July 2013

West Africa: Study Highlights Damages of Climate Change On Volta River

A new report highlighting the damaging effects of climate change on West Africa's Volta River basin was released at the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week in Accra, Ghana.

The study was performed by the Ghana based International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research's (CGIAR) Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). It examined the effects of climate change on water storage in Africa and detailed how a predicted 3.6 degree Celsius increase over the next century could affect the region.

The Volta River Basin is home to close to 34-million people who are spread across six countries which include Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo. Researchers said the predicted drop in rainfall and resulting decrease in water flow would directly impact their lives for many years if it is not addressed now.

"The study found that climate change will add significant impact on rainfall as well as river flow and ground water recharge in the Volta Basin, which in turn will have impact on development outcomes relating to economic development , food security, and the livelihoods of farmers in the Volta Basin," described Tim Williams, director for Africa at IWMI.

For example, he said normally, surface water storage in the basin would allow for irrigation of larger areas. But he said this would be adversely affected the drop in rainfall brought about by climate change.

Williams said the report should be a wake-up call for the government and public officials to look at the likely impact of climate change on water resources in the Volta Basin. He says he hopes leaders will start taking appropriate measures to ensure that the coming changes in weather patterns will not harm the economic development, well-being and livelihoods of the people of the Volta Basin.

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