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General News of Monday, 18 February 2008

Source: GNA

Second Dams Forum opens in Accra next week

Accra, Feb. 18, GNA - A national dialogue on dams and their development in Ghana is scheduled to take place in Accra next week. The forum, captioned; "Second Ghana Dams Forum and Workshop on the Impact of Climate Change on the Bui Hydropower Project," is expected to open a debate on the construction of the Bui Dam Project based on lessons from the Aksombo Dam.

About 60 institutions, including traditional authorities and non-governmental organizations are expected to be represented. Mr Richard Twum Barimah Koranteng, Executive Director, Volta Basin Development Foundation, said at a press conference in Accra that the debate was simple because behind the array of facts and figures, economic statistics and engineering calculations lay a number of basic and easily understood principles.

"If adhered to and routinely applied, these principles will not only go a long way towards responding to the controversy surrounding dams, but would markedly improve decision-making on water and energy resources (to) achieve better outcomes." He said during the first Ghana Dams Forum held in 2006, a consensus was reached to further conduct a study into issues like compensation, community involvement and, research and capacity. "The issue papers which have been prepared by experienced consultants and researchers will be presented during this second forum," Mr Koanteng said.

Mr Koranteng said in addition, it was realized that the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) of the ongoing Bui Hydropower Project for which the final designs were being prepared, should be reviewed to identify potential impact indicators which could be taken up for further study. "The review leading to identification of indicators and formulation of relevant studies is ongoing. "However, an immediate clearly felt limitation was the lack of scientific information on the potential impact of global climate changes on the Bui dam."

Mr Koranteng, who is also the Coordinator for the Secretariat of Members of the National Co-ordinating Committee for the Second Forum, said it was true that dams had made important and significant contributions to human development and the benefits derived from them had been considerable. "However, in many cases an unacceptable and often unnecessary price has been paid to secure those benefits, especially in social and environmental terms by people displaced by communities downstream, by tax payers and by the natural environment. "Therefore by bringing to the table all those whose rights are involved and who bear the risks associated with different options for water and energy resource development, the conditions for a positive resolution of competing interests and conflicts are created," he said.

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