Stakeholders assess social impact of hydropower projects

BY: Maxwell Ocloo

Stakeholders in the hydropower industry from four African countries have converged in Accra as part of a training programme to assess the social impact of hydropower projects.

The participants who are from Ghana, Uganda, Zambia and Sierra Leone will delibrate on the impact of health, resettlement and the livelihoods of communities on the environment.

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The Chief Learning Officer at the Volta River Authority (VRA) Academy, Mr Eric Mensah Bonsu, in an address at the opening ceremony in Accra last Monday said, the training would focus on the social impact of the construction of dams on the environment.

The participants, he added, will also develop a policy document on the sustainable ways to mitigate the impact of hydropower on the environment.

Mr Bonsu said the construction of the Volta Lake had several consequences on communities in terms of settlement and their livelihood and therefore the training will reconsider the processes involved in the construction of dams and how best to develop a sustainable measure to mitigate its impact on the environment.


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Organisers

The training programme which was financed by Norad, was organised by the VRA in collaboration with the International Centre for Hydro power, the World Bank Group, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Water Resources Commission.

Mr Bonsu said Ghana was adapting clean and renewable energy hence the need for the country to collaborate with partners to address the phenomenon.

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To that end, he said, the VRA had a Resettlement Trust Fund for the community from which it spent over $500,000 every year on resettlement.

Mr Bonsu was also of the view that the programme would enable the participating countrys to share and learn their experiences on efforts they are making to address the impact of hydropower on the environment.

Economic development

The Deputy Head of Mission at the Norwegian Embassy in Ghana, Mr Qyvind Udkand Johansen, said hydropower played a vital role in economic development and needed to be harnessed well.

The Head of the Africa Sector, International Centre for Hydropower, Ms Carole Rosenlund, for her part, said her outfit had prioritised on skills development for hydropower professionals.

She said given the rapid advancement in technology, it was important to build the skills of professionals in the sector so as to make them relevant for the future.

Ms Rosenlund further said the sector was becoming international and therefore there was the need to work collectively to address the social impact of hydropower in communities.