Privacy Policy Disclaimer
  Advanced SearchBrowse




Journal Article

Attributing synergies and trade-offs in water resources planning and management in the Volta River basin under climate change


Liersch,  Stefan
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Koch,  Hagen
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Abungba,  J. A.
External Organizations;

Salack,  S.
External Organizations;


Hattermann,  Fred Fokko
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

External Ressource
No external resources are shared
Fulltext (public)
Supplementary Material (public)
There is no public supplementary material available

Liersch, S., Koch, H., Abungba, J. A., Salack, S., Hattermann, F. F. (2023): Attributing synergies and trade-offs in water resources planning and management in the Volta River basin under climate change. - Environmental Research Letters, 18, 1, 014032.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_27889
To feed the growing population, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, and fulfil the commitments of the Paris Agreement, West African countries need to invest in agricultural development and renewable energy, among other sectors. Irrigated agriculture, feeding millions of people, and hydropower, generating clean electricity, depend on water availability and compete for the resource. In the Volta basin, the planned 105 000 ha of irrigated land in Burkina Faso and Ghana could feed hundreds of thousands of people. However, irrigation in the dry season depends on upstream dams that change the river’s flow regime from intermittent to permanent, and at the same time irrigation water is no longer available for hydropower generation. Using an integrated eco-hydrological and water management model, we investigated the water demand and supply of three planned irrigation projects and the impacts of the planned Pwalugu multi-purpose dam on the hydropower potentials and water availability in the entire Volta basin. We found that future irrigation withdrawals would reduce the hydropower potential in the Volta basin by 79 GWh a−1 and the operation of Pwalugu by another 86 GWh a−1. Hence, Pwalugu contributes only about 101 GWh a−1 of its potential of 187 GWh a−1. Under climate change simulations, using an ensemble of eight bias-adjusted and downscaled GCMs, irrigation demand surprisingly did not increase. The higher evaporation losses due to higher temperatures were compensated by increasing precipitation while favouring hydropower generation. However, water availability at the irrigation site in Burkina Faso is clearly at its limit, while capacity in Ghana is not yet exhausted. Due to hydro-climatic differences in the Volta basin, the cost of irrigating one hectare of land in terms of lost hydropower potential follows a north-south gradient from the hot and dry north to the humid south. Nevertheless, food production should have priority over hydropower, which can be compensated by other renewables energies.