By Barnaby Dye, FutureDAMS Research Associate
FutureDAMS held its annual conference in Accra, Ghana a couple of weeks ago. This was an exciting opportunity to meet our colleagues from across the world and particularly in Ghana. With a vibrant and well-established network of researchers, this country will be the first to start implementing FutureDAMS research. The conference also offered the opportunity to conduct the first knowledge production session with the model developed by the project’s technical team.
The annual event was hosted by Centre for Science and Industry Research (CSIR), our official partner in Ghana. After two days of internal meetings, we hosted a symposium which included representatives from the research community at CSIR, from Universities in Ghana and from government organisations concerned with energy and water including the Volta Basin Authority. Representatives of government departments from Burkina Faso were also able to attend, and members of the non-governmental organisations like IWMI.
It was brilliant to bring together a wide range of relevant actors in Africa for whom the FutureDAMS approach is ultimately intended. Two points particularly stuck out here:
- Many of the participants stressed the importance of FutureDAMS working across the entirety of the Volta River Basin. This crucially means engaging with the upstream countries of Burkina Faso and Togo who have often been less represented. However, these countries play a major role in water management and therefore need to be included in research and future decision making.
- Another point recognised the contribution of dams to Ghana’s electricity production and irrigation. There were also strong statements made by engineers and social scientists about the costs of dams and the need to learn lessons from projects like Akosombo Dam.
It will be important for FutureDAMS to continue to listen and work with these stakeholders to maintain its relevance.