Credit: Bruno Vanbesien

Cooperation in International Waters in Africa: Annual Report FY2018

Results by Project or Basin – Volta


Shared information boosts riparian trust and confidence and forms the basis of transboundary cooperation.

OUTCOME AREA 1. Effective information platforms enhance responses to water-related hazards, which are more frequent and extreme in a changing climate.

Stakeholder Communication: The VBA is currently improving its approach to stakeholder communication with the support of a consultant. Improved communications aim to enable enhanced dialogue among VBA stakeholders and improve water resource management and development in the basin in the long term. The consultant and the VBA are currently organizing workshops with the six member states in order to refine the needs and present proposals for the communication strategy and plan for validation in October 2018.

OUTCOME AREA 2. Shared data, knowledge, and analytical tools enable timely, transparent, and regionally beneficial decision making.

Knowledge Sharing: The VBA is strengthening knowledge generation and dissemination in the Volta Basin. CIWA has supported the VBA to help share studies and knowledge products ranging from regional planning documents to more technical studies on water resources management, climate risks, and water economic infrastructure in the region, both through an improved VBA website and through direct interactions and participation in other international workshops. To facilitate knowledge sharing and use at country level, CIWA helped VBA undertake a study to establish and strengthen the capacities of the National Focal Structures. CIWA also facilitated staff participation in World Water Week in Stockholm in August 2017.

Water Charter: The VBA is developing a water charter through a process that ensures harmonization of regional and national legal processes. The diagnostic phase for development of the water charter was completed with regional workshops held in each member country. Through a workshop held in May 2018, the member states approved the diagnostic findings and the drafting phase of the Water Charter and consultations have begun. The CIWA and GEF-supported process includes drafting, collaborative evaluation and validation by stakeholders, ministerial adoption of the charter, and final adoption. It includes support for strategic communication to raise awareness and advocacy activities to enhance the understanding, ownership, and operationalization of the charter’s principles and shared rules. The basin-wide legal framework provided by the charter will define the guiding principles for improved transboundary water resources development and management in the basin and strengthen the VBA’s position to carry out its mandate. The collaborative approach taken by riparian governments in preparing, drafting, and vetting the charter will lay the foundational steps for cooperating around their shared water resources. It is envisioned that this inclusive process of developing the water charter will contribute to basin-wide understanding of the value of such a cooperative framework for regional water resources management, facilitating heads of state approval and country ratification in the longer term. Complementary actions to develop the water charter include training in the law applicable to international waters and rivers, the facilitation of training sessions as part of the process of adoption and ratification of the Water Charter of the Volta Basin, and planned visits and internships with VBA beginning in FY19.


Effective regional and national institutions enable riparian states to manage shared risks and harness net benefits of cooperation.

OUTCOME AREA 2. Financially and institutionally sustainable regional organizations provide effective water management services to countries.

Institutional Assessment: The World Bank-executed institutional assessment of the VBA has identified institutional and capacity gaps in the VBA and outlined recommendations to strengthen the VBA institutional structure and operational capacity. The report was delivered to the VBA in mid-2017, and the VBA has requested further World Bank support to implement the recommendations. Recommendations at both the strategic and operational levels include actions that will be carried out in the framework of the World Bank-supported Volta Strategic Action Programme Implementation Project (VSIP) (co-funded by CIWA and GEF) and others that VBA member countries and other partners may develop as a contribution to operationalize the VBA’s Strategic Plan 2015-2019.

Institutional Development: With joint support from CIWA and GEF, the VBA prepared a study that will help establish national focal structures that are currently missing and will assist the organization to mobilize the political and financial support it needs to fulfill its mandate. This study was finalized in FY18. The study builds on a 2013 study by the French Development Agency (AFD) on autonomous financing mechanisms to operationalize the much-needed improvement in national contributions from member states to cover the VBA operating expenses. In line with the VBA’s 2015-2019 Strategic Plan and recent decisions of the Council of Ministers, the study provides operational proposals to enable the existing national focal points and their staff to play an immediate role in securing national financial contributions and, in the longer term, to establish national focal structures and ensure their effective functioning. Inadequate financial contributions from the member states is an important matter for follow up and improvement to assure the VBA runs smoothly.


Regionally beneficial investments generate socioeconomic benefits and gender-inclusive poverty reduction.

OUTCOME AREA 2. Coordinated investment planning and inclusive stakeholder engagement ensures equitable benefit sharing and effective risk management.

Demonstration Projects: CIWA and GEF are jointly supporting the preparation of demonstrative sub-projects in Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Togo, Ivory Coast, and Ghana. In light of the currently proposed project restructuring, the scope and budget of these demonstrative projects may be reduced to accommodate available time and funding. These investments target transboundary impacts through improvements in water quality and flows and will contribute to community livelihood improvement. The sub-projects build upon strategic priorities identified in the basin’s Strategic Action Program (SAP) to preserve and restore critical soil and water ecosystem functions in select hot spots and optimize water usage among primary functions and riparian states in a sustainable manner. The investments will have the potential for replication or scale-up in other parts of the basin. Preparation and implementation of these demonstrative sub-projects will build on a participatory process that involves citizens and NGOs in the construction, operation, and maintenance of the said investments and the socioeconomic benefits they will provide. Women laborers will be targeted in the implementation of the projects, and specific training programs provided to them.

Feasibility studies for the six sub-projects have been completed and have considered adjustments to scope and budget related to the proposed restructuring process. The project implementation unit and national focal points conducted field missions in each of the sub-project areas to raise awareness and inform local stakeholders, including citizens, authorities, and civil society organizations.

Water Master Plan: In its 2015-2019 Strategic Plan, the VBA envisions the development of a Water Master Plan to help riparian states evaluate trade-offs, negotiate mutually beneficial arrangements for water allocation and use, and prioritize investments to optimize benefits. Should additional support become available to the VBA, progress made through current CIWA support could contribute to the preparation and implementation of such a Water Master Plan. This would advance a basin approach to water resources development, including major structuring investments and integration of issues such as climate change adaptation and environmental and social safeguards into investment planning.