The Volta Lake and Declining Rainfall and Streamflows in the Volta River Basin

Research paper by P. Gyau-Boakye, J.W. Tumbulto

Indexed on: 01 Mar '00Published on: 01 Mar '00Published in: Environment, Development and Sustainability


This paper looks at the rainfall and streamflow patterns over two distinct time periods, i.e., 1950–1970 and 1971–1991 within the two most prominent catchments in the Volta river system – White Volta and the Oti basins. The first period (1950–1970) represents relatively vegetated catchments and low population whilst the latter (1971–1990) represents intense land use practices resulting from increased population that have severely degraded the environment. These two catchments are among the most significant contributors to the Volta lake. The Volta lake, which was formed between 1962 and 1966 in Ghana and created primarily for hydroelectric power generation, will probably be one of the greatest man-made lakes for a long time. It produces 912 MW of electricity at its maximum operating capacity. Recently, there have been declines in the lake levels resulting most probably from inadequate rainfall and/or runoff from the river catchments that feed the lake. Comparisons of runoffs for the two time periods show reductions in mean streamflows of 32.5% at Saboba on the Oti and 23.1% at Nawuni on the White Volta.