The Volta Basin Authority (VBA) Ministers have held its seventh session at the ECOWAS Sectariate in Asokoro, Abuja on Thursday December 15, 2016 to strategise on the modalities for sustaining the activities of the countries in the Volta River Basin which comprise Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Benin, Ghana and Togo.
In an opening remark presented at the occasion, the Deputy Minister of Water Resources, Works & Housing of Ghana, Sam Yaw Aduse in welcoming delegates to the meeting said that the session had been preceded by a discussion within an expertise committee to prepare the Ministers report for presentation to the Heads of States of the Authorty on Friday December 16.
He revealed that the Council of Heads of States of the Volta Basin Authority was scheduled to meet on Friday 16th and the Committee of Ministers was saddled with presenting their resolutions to them. He informed that the Committee of Ministers had earmarked a Water Conservative Development and Economic Plan for the six countries which share the Volta River in West Africa.
According to him, the way forward and the economic benefits derivable from the Volta River formed the basis of the meeting. He indicated that the major projects that have been launched since inception of the Volta Basin Authority have concerned looking at water conservation initiatives and the development of a masterplan that can help to conserve the water that is a available in the river.
“Also, VBA is looking at how member countries can benefit from its activities and the coming together was purposed to enable economic advantages to cascade to its member countries. We are as well looking at making proper use of the river because we are like being exposed to a lot of potentials that are derivable from the place, but which we have not fully utilised,” he said.
“This authority is looking at and trying to align our vision together in moving forward.”
On the perceived challenges so far encountered, he said that environmental degradation is one of them and the other which is administrative is how to utilise the Volta River efficiently, the time of meeting of the Heads of States as well as the recruitment process.
He mentioned that in going forward, the authority is trying to align it’s activities with those who live around the river in a bid to protect the river for future use. He emphasized that the main challenge has been environmental degradation and that is why the meeting was called to articulate some of the issues for presentation to the Council of Heads of States of the Volta Basin.
While remarking that the authority has not yet risen to its feat, he allayed that it has been able to initiate a lot of developments. Adding, with the SDGs in vogue, there have been a lot of developments and countries are trying to align activities to the SDG goals. He further explained that the authority is trying to adapt itself to the common features and developments coming up in line with the SDGs in attempt to stay in touch with developments across the world.
Sam Yaw reiterated that funding has been a big challenge to the VBA, insisting that this has been sourced from those who use the river through the “Polluter Pay Policy” among other measures. He adherred that inspite of these funding challenges, policies are being developed towards proper funding of some generated programmes.
“Overall, funding has been internally generated and will be utilised to fund more programmes. As the meeting progresses, effort will be made to develop some resolutions that will be forwarded to the Council of Heads of States as the ultimate decision making body.”
Delivering his address at the meeting of VBA Ministers, the Chairman of VBA, who is the Minister of Water Resources & Sanitation in Burkina Faso, Nouga Ambroise Ouedraogo thanked the Nigerian government and the ECOWAS Authority for making the meeting possible. He explained that the opening ceremony was scheduled for Thursday evening, while other VBA deliberations were to be held on Friday.
Ouedraogo observed that the meeting had a good participation from all the Ministers of the six member states of VBA being Mali, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Benin and Togo, saying Friday December 16 was scheduled for the meeting of the Heads of States of VBA.
Reporting on the key points to be presented to the Heads of States of VBA, he said that these are many because since decisions were taken in 2007, there has been only one summit of the Heads of States with only the second one ahead. He said therefore, there were numerous draft decisions, recommendations and resolutions to be submitted to the Heads of States of VBA.
Some of these resolutions, he mentioned were primarily that since the setting up of the authority, all the bodies and officers have been acting on the interim and their tenure is due to end on Friday December 16 at the Summit of Heads of States of VBA when the VBA is expected to be fully set up. He stated further that the second aspect was the need to change the rhythm and frequency of VBA meeting as it has been realised that the Council meets once a year and once every two years.
The VBA Chairman noted that following the guidelines in the proposal for a change, the summit may now meet once in every four years to afford members the opportunity of taking more decisions and resolutions.
On the benefits of VBA to member countries, he informed that the setting up of the authority is in the interest of the population around the basin. Adding, if each country decides to do what it wants with the basin, it can create a task to fill or a kind of disaster. However, the decisions taken on common projects have been in the interest of everybody in the region.
He identified some of the major projects to to involve proposals that are not yet operational such as the Integrated Management of Water Resources which has already been embarked upon in Burkina Faso.