BC3's economic valuation work assigns monetary value to different system impacts and natural infrastructure investments. This information facilitates analysis of the economic costs and benefits associated with infrastructure, management and climate shifts. This allows better integration of the economic value of ecosystem services (ESs) into decisions and dialogue over planned water infrastructure developments.

ESs valuation is an approach that considers ecosystems as productive components that need to be integrated into framework appraisals – just like the costs and benefits of built infrastructure. It is a tool to help decision-making integrate environmental externalities that different operation rules can trigger by considering ecosystems as valuable exhaustible goods. Thus, different operation rules will deliver different benefit-to-cost ratios for a given objective.

In the Volta basin, the WISE-UP team uses the planned Pwalugu Multi-purpose Dam (PMD) project as the case study for optimising natural and built infrastructure. BC3 examines, in economic terms, how best to integrate natural infrastructure into planning and operations of the PMD. This starts with developing the economic values of ecosystem services (ESs) underpinned by water flow and used by the Pwalugu communities. This information can then be directly used to inform the operational rules of the planned Pwalugu dam. We now know quantitatively how much (in $ value) the communities are getting from the river flow and at what time of the year. We are also able to evaluate how much would be lost if the dam was operated in such a way that would reduce downstream flow and impact without taking the communities’ livelihoods dependent on the natural seasonal flooding into account of the river.  

Volta Basin, Ghana

Similar work is being carried out in the Tana River Basin.