Project on climate change effect on Volta Lake underway

BY: Emelia Ennin Abbey
Volta lake

Climate change is expected to negatively affect the Volta Lake, which contributes 85 per cent of the country’s inland fish.

The situation, according to researchers, will affect the livelihood and nutritional welfare of communities along the lake.

To assess the effects of climate change on hydrology, water quality and fish production of the lake, the Water Research Institute (WRI) of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has partnered the Aarhus University, Denmark, to undertake a three-year project.

The project, dubbed Climate Change Effects on Volta Lake Resources (VOLTRES), is being sponsored by the Danish Foreign Ministry and DANIDA Fellowship Centre.
Further, the project is training local scientists and educating students at the PhD and MPhil levels to strengthen local capacity in climate change research and biophysical modelling.

Stakeholders meet

As part of the project, selected scientists and representatives of stakeholder agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Water Resources Commission (WRC) have attended a workshop in Accra.

At the opening of the workshop, Dr Ruby Asmah, the Head of the Fisheries Division of the WRI, said the project would improve the understanding of the lake ecosystem functioning.

“The final output of the project started in August 2014 and is expected to end in August 2016,” she said, noting that it would contribute significantly to Ghana’s climate change adaptation and mitigation programme.
Ghana, she said, was in the process of mainstreaming climate change into development programmes and policies at all levels of governance and the project was expected to play an important role.

Volta Lake

Dr Asmah said the Volta Lake’s role in supporting livelihoods and nutritional welfare was critical in a country where fish was estimated to account for up to 60 per cent of its total animal protein requirement.
She explained that the lake contributed six per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and was the main source of inland fish, accounting for 15 per cent of the total domestic fish production.

The Volta Lake, she said, also contributed 85 per cent of Ghana’s inland fish production and fish resources of the lake were sources of livelihood for over 1,200 riparian communities.
Currently, Dr Asmah, who is also a senior research scientist, said the Volta Lake was the main source of aquaculture fish production in the country.

“However, recent studies suggest that the fishery of the lake is heavily exploited. Climate change is expected to worsen the situation, with negative consequences for nutrition and livelihoods of the inhabitants of the lake communities in particular and Ghana at large,” he added.