A policy brief on “Unlocking Northern Ghana’s agricultural potential through targeted investment in small reservoirs” has been presented by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) through the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA). The Policy Brief highlights the key findings and recommendations from a research work carried out by the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, as part of the activities under the “Sustainable Employment through Agribusiness (Agribiz) program funded by GIZ.

Presenting the findings at a National Stakeholders Dialogue in Accra, the co-researcher Dr. Joan Akandi Atule, highlighted the importance of reservoirs in ensuring food security and reducing poverty, but unable to fulfil their full potential because they are either ill engineered or defective. She added that to ensure accountability and value for money, there was the need for proper stakeholder involvement as well as community participation for success and sustainability of the dams. Moreover, there was the need for timely correction of defects in reservoirs to avoid further deterioration. Examining the approaches used in the construction of dams under the One Village One Dam Policy, the research work focused on the construction of the Vunania and Gia Dams in the Kassena Nankana Municipal in the Upper East Region of Ghana.

According to her, in undertaking field visits and interacting with community residents, engineers and officials of GIDA and other key stakeholders, it was obvious that the Vunania Dam, which was funded through a World Bank support was somewhat functional and useful as compared to the Gia Dug-out, which was fully funded by the Government of Ghana, though both suffered from structural defects. Regarding the Vunania dam, the inadequate knowledge of community members regarding technicalities involved in siting and construction, low supervision from GIDA as well as inability of contractor to pay attention to critical areas in dam construction contributed to some of the defects of the dam. For the Gia dam, the Government’s decision to use a private consultant, the non-involvement of relevant stakeholders, including GIDA, MOFA and the MDAs and the absence of a mechanism to ensure strong adherence to protocols and requirements for the construction of dams accounted for the poor construction of the dam.

In providing recommendations, she urged government to re-engineer some of the dams under the One Village Dam, correct serious defects in community dams such as the Vunania dam, create a national mechanism to coordinate policy efforts toward strong adherence to requirements for the construction and management of community dams. In addition, community engagement should be incorporated during dam construction, undertake compulsory post-construction analysis and evaluation and the employment of Labour Intensive Public Works (LIPW) for engineering of the dams.

The National President of PFAG, Mr. Wepia Addo Awulgwa, in his opening remarks called for government, as a matter of urgency, to pay attention to investment in irrigation facilities across the country and also reconstruct the existing dams properly and make them fit for purpose. The Executive Director of PFAG, Dr. Charles Nyaaba, was also particularly concerned about the neglect of state-mandated institutions such as GIDA and the Municipal Assemblies during the construction of the dams under the One Village One Dam program and called for a review of these arrangements. The representatives of GIDA, receiving the policy brief, on behalf of the Minister, promised to submit the findings to the Minister and assured farmers that work will be undertaken on the defects identified in the dams.


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