The Pwalugu Multi-Purpose Dam and Irrigation Project will be Soul Saving

Pwalugu Multi Purpose Dam Project

The news about sod-cutting by Ghana’s President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on November 29, 2019 to commence the construction of the Pwalugu Multi-Purpose Irrigation Dam Project (PMIDP) at Pwalugu in the Upper East Region was more than welcoming.

The euphoria, the fulfillment and hopes that got the people was overwhelmingly great and filled the lips of the sons and daughters of the Upper East, North East, Northern and the Savannah Regions.

These areas, indeed, have suffered natural disasters, especially of floods in the last two decades, exposing them to the negative effects from the harsh, unpredictable, inconveniencing and hopeless weather conditions with its ardent dangers.

The people of the Upper East Region especially for a very long time have been at the mercy of the man-made annual ritual of deaths and destructions of property including; farmlands and animals from release of water from the Bagre dam in neighbouring Burkina Faso.

The Bawku Municipal, Bawku West, Garu and its environs, Bolgatanga Municipal and Bolgatanga East Districts, the Nabdam and Talensi districts, the Navrongo area communities, the Builsa enclave, the Yagaba (overseas) area, Walewale, Gambaga and Nalerigu areas as well as communities in the Northern and Savannah regions suffer major disasters from the release of water from the Bagre dam.

The harm caused by these disasters of floods annually, influenced major stakeholders, through jittering frequent agitations to turn this cancerous disturbing phenomenon into useful venture that could be reversed to serve the needs of the people positively in these flood prone environments.

Reports by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) from its Ghana Living Standard Survey document, indicates, poverty has varied dimensions and is characterized by low income, malnutrition, ill-health, illiteracy, and insecurity, among others.

The impact of the different factors, it states, could combine to keep households, and sometimes whole communities, in abject poverty.

Again, in a bad situation, where nature does not favour Northern Ghana, as climate change effects consistently change the weather patterns from bad to worse, giving it just four months of erratic rainfalls and depending on ineffective speculations of weather behaviours, that limits production of food crops during the minor season mainly to southern Ghana districts, gives room for worry.

This is worrying, and in studying the relief advantages thereon, informed governments on the need to harness that natural resource from the Volta basin to advantage and augment the socio-economic bankruptcy that suppresses proper growth against the people of the Upper East, North East, Northern, and the Savannah Regions.

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Indeed, the Nkrumah government under its industrialization course in the 1960s spotted the idea to maximize the potentials around the Volta River Basin.

To address these cancerous perennial problems of uncertain weather conditions, reliable sources of sustainable food security is required to develop and implement policies that would have sterling impact on the lives of the poor and vulnerable in the project area.

The Upper East Region for instance, is noted for its wide knowledge base in the cultivation of vegetable crops. It was once upon a time the biggest market for tomatoes in the West Africa sub-region and supplying the vegetable to neighbouring Burkina Faso and Togo.

Today, the story is reversed, giving Burkina Faso the reserve supply rights. Our Market Queens, in the last two decades have depended on Burkina Faso for supply of the vegetable; a situation that has potentially undermined the Ghanaian intellect.

Many in the project area therefore see the Pwalugu Multipurpose Irrigation Project as apt, God sent, and end to the poverty strain that is eating Northern Ghana up.

The hope the people have sunk in this project is big and therefore project implementers must see it as such and act to prevent any feet dragging and execute it to fruition.

Brief History about the Pwalugu Irrigation Project
The Pwalugu Multi-Purpose Dam and Irrigation Project (PMDIP) is one of the flagship Projects for the current Government of Ghana. The Project has three major components which are power generation, irrigation and flood control.

The Volta River Authority (VRA) is responsible for the power generation and flood control, while the Ministry for Food and Agriculture (MOFA) through the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) is responsible for the irrigation component thus Pwalugu Irrigation Project.

The irrigation component is expected to unlock the agricultural potential of the Savannah zone and to become the largest irrigation scheme in Ghana.

The first study of Pwalugu Irrigation Project was carried out in the 1960’s (Pwalugu: 110,000ha). The Study was updated in 1993 at the prefeasibility level along with two other schemes on the White Volta (Kulpawn & Daboya).

In February 19th 2013, VRA signed a contract with Tractable Engineering to carry out the feasibility studies and detailed designs studies for the Pwalugu Multipurpose Dam Project (PMDP).

These studies along with the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment was funded by Agence Francaise de Development (AFD).

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The pre-feasibility and the feasibility were completed in May 2014 and January 2016 respectively. The two studies considered Energy generation as the primary purpose and Irrigation and flood management as the Secondary Purpose.

However, the outcome of financial and Economic analysis during the feasibility revealed that most of the benefits of the project was driven by the irrigation development (20,000-ha) by gravity in prospect).

Stakeholders agreed there was the need to carry out further work on the Institutional, Social and Economic Feasibility of such a large irrigation Scheme.

Consequently, the Volta River Authority (VRA) contracted a Consultant Société du Canal de Provence (SCP) from France to undertake the task in 2017 with Funding support from AFD. SCP collaborated with the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) and VRA closely, to carry out the Study.

GIDA’s Role
The Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) is expected to play essential role in the Pwalugu Multipurpose Irrigation Project. Its role as stated earlier, is to manage one of the core elementary roles in the project; the construction of the irrigation component, through its mother Ministry, The Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).

The project has a broad importance to the people of Northern Ghana as it is tailored to reduce the canker of unregulated migration from Northern Ghana to the South with its negative consequences and the annual ritual of recording fatalities from floods and overcoming the erratic rainfall regimes.

The irrigation component is expected to unlock the agricultural potential of the Savannah zone and to become the largest irrigation scheme in Ghana.

To achieve these laudable goals of significantly reducing poverty for the people in the project area, their deep involvement in every sphere of the project is essentially relevant and cannot be underestimated.

As part of efforts to get these communities to appreciate the essence of the project, including; the impact it will have on them, and involving them in some decision making, Managers of the project have established the needed rapport with the community leaderships through numerous engagements to sensitise them on the project.

The community members who are relinquishing their lands for this purpose must see the sacrificial element as an offer for the general development of the area for generations to benefit.

Face-to-face with community members
On January 19, 2021, six media houses drawn from the Upper East, North East, and the Northern regions accompanied officials of MOFA, GIDA and West Mamprusi Municipal Assembly to undertake sensitsation fora in about 14 clustered communities that constitute the project area.

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The purposes for the community engagements was to solicit community support and inform these communities about the project, its Benefits and Impacts, discuss and inform them on roles the various stakeholders in the community (Chiefs, Landlords, Assembly Men/Women, and other community members) are expected to play, inform them about the up-coming cadastral survey to be carried out by Lands Commission and the roles they are expected to play during the process and to update the communities on activities carried out so far and inform them of subsequent activities to be carried out, and address any other concerns from the communities that are relevant for the successful implementation of the Project.

At that sensitisation meeting more than 1,560 people from thirteen (14) communities attended. They were made up of Chiefs and Elders of each Community, Agricultural Extension Agents (AEAs), Assembly men and women, Religious leaders, and Community Members and media personnel.

During the discussion sessions, participants raised some vital concerns about the upcoming project.
Key among them were land related issues (its acquisition, allocation, boundaries etc.), floods, and activities of nomadic Fulani herdsmen, which they cravingly emphasized on, for assurances from the authorities of MOFA/GIDA to guide these activities and prevent the nuisance posed by these herdsmen. The people’s questions further touched on Social issues and other benefits they would derive from the project (roads, schools, clinic, employment, crime, crop compensation) amongst others.

The irrigation site which is in the North East region of Ghana and located at the left bank of the White Volta River is spread in an area covering about 14 communities.

It is expected that, the net developed irrigable area shall be 24,000 hectors (ha). The Project shall consist of a diversion weir intake appurtenance, irrigation canals/structures, pump stations, road network, land development, drainage system, automation system and other auxiliary structures.

The system shall be flexible to allow irrigators to use several water applications options.
For example, drip, centre pivot, sprinkler, flooding etc. and allow future irrigators to construct pump stations for their needs.
To be continued

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