Identifying and Incorporating Indigenous Concepts into Integrated Water Resources Management within the White Volta Basin in Ghana

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The enactment of the Water Resources Commission (WRC) Act in Ghana in 1996 has in effect abolished the pre-1996 customary regime which allowed the ownership of water to be handled by stools, skins, society, families among others. In place of the customary regime, the state has taken over the ownership, control, and management of water by establishing the WRC. The research aimed to identify and determine effective Indigenous Forms of Water Resources Management (IFWRM) and suggest ways of incorporating them into formal Water Resources Management (WRM) within the White Volta River Basin (WVB) in Ghana. Six communities were selected for the study. Means of questionnaire administration and Focus group discussions were used to establish the perceptions and practices of community members with regards to the White Volta River, and traditional forms of WRM. The results of the study show that some community members perceive strong informal water rights held by traditional authorities in the areas of indigenous water permitting systems and conflict resolution mechanisms. Coping strategies evolved during extreme events of draughts and floods. Indigenous laws and/or practices as well as the bye products of Taboos resulted in the management and conservation of local water resources. Proposed strategies that could help incorporate IFWRM into formal systems include: Use traditional leaders to keep rec6rds with regard to every activity in or along the river banks through the issuance of water permits to small scale and peasant farmers; create awareness among indigenous communities on their past efforts in WRM and the need for more cooperation and participation from them and to adopt and implement the first most preferred indigenous forms of WRM identified in the various communities; provide alternative/sustainable livelihood supports to help reduce unsustainable evolving coping strategies to extreme environmental conditions along the river banks; create a subcommittee of the White Volta Basin Board (WVBB) on indigenous water rights and management forms to foster a more comprehensive implementation of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) within the WVB. Keywords: Integrated Water Resources Management; Indigenous; Traditional; Water Resources Commission; White Volta River; Basin
A thesis submitted to the College of Engineering in partial fulfilment of the requirements for Master of Science.