Sustainable Livelihood Adaptation in Dam-Affected Volta Delta, Ghana: Lessons of NGO Support

  •  Benjamin D. Ofori    
  •  Elaine T. Lawson    
  •  Jesse S. Ayivor    
  •  Roland Kanlisi    


The costs of the multiple benefits of large-scale dam development are disproportionately borne by displaced people upstream and downstream riparian communities whose livelihood strategies have depended on the flood regime of rivers and resources in their natural surroundings. Downstream dam-affected populations are compelled to adapt to post-dam flood plain ecosystems in order to rebuild their livelihoods. However, they are usually confronted with many challenges due to limited local capacity, levels of vulnerability and impoverishment and, very often, inadequate and slow governmental and institutional support. In this paper, we examined the support of an international non-governmental organisation for four island communities of the Volta Delta in Ghana whose livelihoods were disrupted by the damming of the Volta River upstream at Akosombo, 80km from its mouth. The study was situated within the context of the sustainable livelihood analysis framework and the methodology adopted involved discussions and interviews with project beneficiaries and implementers. The study findings indicated that there were initial benefits from the livestock component of the project but that could not be sustained as the beneficiaries could not buy feed on regular basis. However, the communal agroforestry undertaken by the groups provided the impetus for establishment of individually-owned woodlots which are harvested for fuel. A key lesson from the project is that local leadership is crucial in the success of community livelihood support programmes. Also, adequate sensitization and education about the project along with re-orientation of peoples’ minds are essential ingredients for achieving acceptability of the project by local communities and ensuring project sustainability.

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