Water resource management is of paramount importance not only for the economic development of the countries concerned, but also to avoid conflicts. As indicated by the French Ambassador to Ghana, HE François Pujolas: “Water should not be a source of division but rather a factor of cooperation between States“.
The United Nations (UN) estimates at 40%, conflicts related to natural resources. This situation is aggravated by climate change in particular, because of its impact on land degradation and desertification.
International management: a challenge for Ghana
Ghana has important transboundary watercourses (Volta, Tano and Bia River Basins) that contribute greatly to the socioeconomic development of the country. It is important that Ghana cooperates fully with its riparian neighbours, other countries worldwide on the subject of international watercourses. Acceding to global water conventions can help Ghana to better foster and strengthen transboundary water cooperation.
The two global agreements open to Ghana’s participation, as a United Nations Member State, are:
– The 1992 UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (1992 Water Convention); and
– The 1997 UN Convention on Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses (1997 Watercourses Convention).
Ghana did sign the 1997 Watercourses Convention and 1992 Water Convention has been opened to all countries globally. Ghana is not a party to the Conventions, but still has to ratify them.
What does Ghana stand to gain in ratifying this convention?
The majority of the world’s rivers and water resources are internationalized. Ghana is no exception. Ghana is not a party to the Conventions, but could benefit from consenting to it.
This ratification will establish rules for the use, development, conservation, management and protection of international watercourses and promote their optimal and sustainable use for the benefit of present and future generations, and therefore aims to maintain good relations with neighbouring states.
It also includes the preservation of ecosystems; the prevention, reduction and control of pollution and the protection and preservation of the marine environment.
France has heavily invested in water resource management
France strongly supports Ghana’s ratification of these conventions. Through the ‘’Agence Française de Développement’’ (AFD), the French government’s development policy arm, France participates in projects in Ghana to improve water management. For example, by rehabilitating the hydroelectric dam in order to secure hydroelectric production at the Kpong power station and, in the long term, allow irrigation of important agricultural areas, while reducing the use of fossil fuels. ‘’ Through this type of project, France actively participates in the sound management of Ghana’s water resources in order to promote development and stability’’, the French Ambassador to Ghana pointed out.
To conclude, these two conventions are the preferred instruments for implementing objectives 6 (water and sanitation) and 16 (peace, justice, institution-building) of Agenda 2030 for sustainable development. Furthermore France wishes to encourage dialogue on the issue of water resource management between Member States and UN agencies such as UNESCO on surface and groundwater resources, as well as UNICEF and World Health Organisation on the links between water resources and people’s access to drinking water.