WISE-UP links ecosystem services more directly into water infrastructure development in the Tana (Kenya) and Volta (Ghana-Burkina Faso) river basins

WISE-UP Map Locations Geographies

The Tana River Basin, Kenya

The Tana River, Kenya’s longest river, flows for approximately 1000km draining a catchment of 126,026km². Growing competition amongst water users is projected to intensify with the development of new hydropower plants, climate variability, as well as increasing urban, agricultural, and ecosystem demands. The Tana river is also the only river providing water to the lower delta inhabited by a poor and vulnerable population. River sediments and nutrients support the health of beaches and marine parks, critical contributors to Kenya’s national economy.

WISE UP Map for Tana River Basin in Kenya

The Volta River Basin, Ghana - Burkina Faso

The Volta River Basin in West Africa covers 417,000 km2 and is shared by six countries: Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo and Benin. The WISE-UP project focuses on the part of the Volta River running through Ghana and Burkina Faso. Water resources in the basin are under stress, as a result of increasing demand due to high population growth, variability of rainfall and runoff, and uncoordinated water resources development. Flooding, water shortages and pollution, loss of biodiversity, waterborne diseases, and proliferation of aquatic weeds affect the region’s poor disproportionately.

WISE-UP Map for Volta River Basin in Ghana and Burkina Faso

New policy in the Tana and Volta river basins will need to better address the interdependencies of growth, poverty and climate change adaptation in order to respond to the following challenges:

  • Short-term and long -erm impacts of climate change on river basins and populations.
  • Competition of water resources from multiple basin stakeholders.
  • Over-abstraction of water resources for multiple uses in multiple sectors.
  • Ecosystem services are usually overlooked in investment decisions.
  • Investments in water infrastructure are often highly contested among stakeholders.
  • Continued debate about the technologies most appropriate for poverty alleviation, and how to avoid the mistakes of the past.
  • Conflicts compounded by lack of knowledge, uncertainty, the privileging of some interests over others, and poor accountability.
  • Trade-offs and synergies among built water infrastructure and ecosystem services that affect poor people are unrecognised, and benefits for poverty reduction are sub-optimal. 

Growth, poverty reduction and climate change adaptation are issues with the highest priority on the policy agenda for developing countries and in multilateral mechanisms at the global level. Relevant policies are evolving rapidly. The 2008 global food crisis and the urgent need for improved global food security, the agreement in 2010 of the Cancun Adaptation Framework and formation of the Green Climate Fund under the UNFCCC, the agreement at Rio+20 to formulate a set of global Sustainable Development Goals and the post-2015 review of the Millennium Development Goals are responses to social, environmental and economic stresses. Water infrastructure is given high priority as an asset for growth and poverty reduction and in strategies for climate change adaptation and major new climate financing. This shifting policy landscape provides critical opportunities for re-framing of policy approaches. 

To find out more about the key issues in each of the Basins, select one from the list below.

Tana River Basin

Volta River Basin