NCAP Ghana: Assessment of Water Sector

Submitted by Ben Smith | published 9th Dec 2011 | last updated 13th Jan 2020
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Water Resource Management

Despite the fact that Ghana has considerable surface and groundwater resources, water resources will be hit hard under climate change. Under a changed climate, lower precipitation, enhanced evaporation, and more frequent droughts will diminish water availability in the Lake Volta reservoir. Additionally, the Akosombo dam, which typically provides about 70% of the country’s energy needs, produces only 30% during periods of low water levels in the dam, posing serious implications for industrialization and private sector development.

Water for domestic use and plant use has become scarcer due to the combined effect of declining rainfall, lowering of the groundwater table, drying streams and wells, and poor water retention capacity of the soils. Since most farmers rely on the rain-fed agriculture (irrigation is not common in most areas), these factors also contribute to large inter-year variations in agricultural productivity.

Water Supply and Demand

  • Supply- the study found that groundwater recharge is likely to be reduced between 5% and 22% by the year 2020 and between 30% and 40% by the year 2050. This is a particularly noteworthy finding for the UER given that this region has the highest number of dams and dugouts in the country, and economic activities are increasingly related to effective utilization of this infrastructure.
  • Demand- pressures from population and a growing economy will lead to significant increases in the consumption of water. For the dry interior savanna region of Ghana, water demand in 2050 is projected to be about 12 times the current levels.
  • Scarcity of water will increase the competitive pressures for basic uses of water, diminish agricultural productivity, increase the risk of water-borne diseases, and will have a negative impact on labor availability, productivity and migration.


    Several adaptation options will be instrumental in helping Ghanaian communities to adapt to this water crisis, as briefly outlined below:

    • Enhance rural systems for potable water and sanitation: It will be important to develop systems to provide safe water and good sanitation in the rural areas.
    • Implement more efficient water management practices: The scarcity of water, particularly in the low rainfall areas, is a major factor constraining crop and animal production. The rainfall in the drier parts of the country could be more effectively utilized with efficient water conservation practices.
    • Explore implications for energy management: Given the reliance of Ghana on hydropower for meeting electricity needs, a key recommendation is that an assessment of climate change on hydropower resources be undertaken.

    Further resources

    Related Pages

    Back to: Key findings from Ghana NCAP project