FutureDAMS Ghana team have written their first working paper for the project. It provides a comprehensive overview of the history of dams in the Ghana up to the present day, covering their technical details, planning processes and politics.
This piece of work is especially significant as it involved an interdisciplinary team of researchers, with social scientists from the University of Ghana joining forces with scientists from the Water Research Institute. It therefore provides one of the most comprehensive overviews of dams in the country, synthesising the existing literature to lay the foundations for future research.
The paper argues that large dams were central to policy making in Ghana in the early postcolonial period. They were seen as a key tool in the quest for development, bringers of socioeconomic and cultural modernisation. Ghana thus constructed three large dams, Akosombo, Kpong and Bui, primarily for the provision of hydroelectricity.
The paper finds that energy, economic and development considerations have outweighed ecological and environmental concerns regarding dams, with implications for those living near them. This is partly because decision-making processes have been largely elitist and technocratic, with limited consultations on potential environmental impacts.
Another particular argument made in the paper is that a more holistic understanding of the interface between water politics and large dams, on the one hand, and the quest for socioeconomic development, on the other, would enable greater appreciation of the nuances and complexities resulting from the diverse array of actors and power relations present in dam building.
We hope the paper provides a useful resource to scholars interested in Ghanaian dams and provide a good grounding for issues addressed by FutureDAMS research more generally.