Ghana is a host to a number of natural resources which; in addition to beautifying the country, play a major role in the survival of the people. To which, builds up to the improvement of the economy besides playing their part in improving the ecosystem. Rivers in Ghana are undoubtedly such natural phenomena that you should know of. If you are interested in knowing where the power that runs the electrical appliances in your house or the source of the water that runs in your tap comes from, read through to find out. Part of the interesting facts that are to be covered in this publication about the major rivers in Ghana include but not limited to their most guarded secrets.
1. The Volta River in Ghana
Has it ever crossed your mind to ponder on why the Volta River is so popular?
Could it be down to the fact that the Volta River is actually a river in Ghana that has been dabbed to be the longest river in the entire country? Its stretch covers a distance of 1,599 kilometers. The river's stretch is quite far such that it reaches Ghana drawing from the Bobo-Dioulasso highlands of Burkina Faso.
Or, could it be famous owing to its attributes? Volta is actually a Portuguese name that means twist. The river has a lot of twists and thus it can be urged that the Portuguese named it Volta since they were the first Europeans to get to the river.
To distinctly comprehend the complete marvel that comes with the Volta river, you need to know how the river comes to be. Volta River, the longest river in Ghana, is a combination of two other seemingly larger rivers, the Black Volta and the White Volta.
2. The Black Volta River in Ghana
The Black Volta is the second largest river in Ghana.
Originating from Burkina Faso, the Black Volta stretches a whooping 1,352 kilometers as it meanders through the country from Burkina Faso entering Ghana from the North. It then flows eastwards creating a barrier between Ghana and Burkina Faso.
The Black Volta separates Ghana from two of its neighbors; Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire. Moreover, it does brag of a dam built at the Bui Gorge.
The Bui Gorge is constructed close to the border that Ghana shares with Côte d’Ivoire at the Black Volta river. The dam is actually the second largest electricity producing dam in the entirety of Ghana. Notable of the river is the opportunities it grants the residents proximal to it. being an employment creator, it cuts through two major towns. One, Lawra, offers ferry services besides the additional workers employed at the dam.
3. The White Volta River in Ghana
The White Volta occupies third position in terms of size ranking when it comes to rivers in Ghana. The river stretches a total of 855 kilometers. Sourced from Burkina Faso, it actually does draw from the capital city of Burkina Faso. White Volta river is named so owing to the way it has many turns.
To add to Volta River's famous attributes; it does pass through a lake. The river passes through the largest artificial lake in the world, Lake Volta.
Lake Volta becomes as a result of the Akosombo Dam which serves the purpose of of electricity generation. From the dam, after its source, Volta River cuts through the country before it finally empties into the Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf of Guinea.
4. River Pra in Ghana
Are you enthusiastic about history?
If so, then it does not come as a surprise that you are knowledgeable about the Pra River. This particular river was used in the 20th century as a major transport route. Not for humans, but it was used to transport timber.
It was used to float timber to the Ghanaian coast. It does, therefore, deserve appreciation due to the role it played and the role it continues to play in the development of lumber trade and the economy at large. Prior to this, the river was used as a borderline separating the Ashanti Empire from the then Gold Coast.
Pra River is one of the rivers in Ghana emanating from the Volta as it flows through some of the most fertile lands in Ghana.
With three main tributaries; the Birim, Anum and Ofin rivers, it cuts through the Akan lowlands which play host to very important forests and also through farmlands that are rich in cocoa.
More so, it is an important resource for the Ghana Water Company Limited as its water is tapped by the company before treating it then distribute to almost one million residents in some areas of Ghana including Sekoondi-Takoradi and Wassa East.
Putting its economic benefits aside, the Pra River is a spectacular sight to behold. Aerial photos of the river would make any nature lover drool over its beauty. The fact that the river passes through dense forests brings out its enchanting beauty clearly. Furthermore, it has a road bridge that cuts across the river adding to its stunning beauty.
However, since the year 2009, the rise in galamsey sites has increased pollution in the river which has made it lose its crystal clear view to a now mostly muddy look. Furthermore, do note that, the river is not a good travel route as it is not easily maneuverable even for those who might want to use a canoe.
Passing through the Kwahu Plateau that is located near Mpraeso, the Pra River finally pours into the Atlantic Ocean at Shama.
5. River Ankobra in Ghana
The Ankobra river rises north east of Wiawso. Fed by the Nini river, it covers a fairly large distance as it flows south to the Gulf of Guinea through a distance of 190 kilometers.
Unlike some of the rivers in Ghana, the Ankobra River is navigable. However, the size of ships that can use the river is what hinders transportation. It is limited only to small-sized ships. Further hindrance to transport in the river is the presence of rapids.
Although rapids are bad for transportation, it has turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the rapids are a very important electricity source. There are a number of hydro electric schemes in the areas of the river with rapids.
Fishing is another thriving economic activity in the river. Offering good fishing spots, you will find a lot of fishing boats in the estuary of the Ankobra River.
The Ankobra River has been making headlines in the past and still continues to make headlines to date. It is arguably the basin that experiences the most exploitation out of all the river basins in relation to natural resources. It is not unusual to find people being arrested for conducting illegal activities in the river. Such illegal acts are seen as the main contributory factors for the change of color of the river from crystal clear water to a yellowish pigmentation. Needless to say, the government is stepping up its efforts to contain the situation and has started taking the necessary steps to ensure they curb this menace.
The Water Resources Commission chose the Ankobra basin together with three other basins; the White Volta and the Densu for a project they rolled out. The basins would be used by the commission to roll out their plan of having the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). This came as a response to the problems that face the Ankobra river basin which include; the Galamsey mining, pollution of the river by indiscriminate mining companies, fishing that is undertaken using harmful chemicals, reduction of forest cover by unscrupulous miners, erosion and many others.
Recently, the government stated that it needed almost $400 million in its push to clean the river.
River Ankobra is said to have a large concentration of mercury. The mercury contamination was discovered following a research by a private firm that had been contracted by the government to examine the turbidity level of the river. Mercury contamination in the river is attributed to mining activities, both legal and illegal, that take place on the banks of the river.
6. The River Densu in Ghana
The inhabitants of Accra have a high probable chance of benefiting off River Densu. This is because half of the drinking water that is consumed in Accra is from the Densu River.
The 116 kilometer river is located in the South East part of Ghana and it rises in the Atewa Range stretching all the way to the wetlands just close to the Atlantic Ocean. The Densu River is unique as it passes through a record 3 regions going through 11 Government Assemblies.
The population that surrounds the river engages mainly in agriculture.
In addition to agriculture, the Densu River is also host to almost 18 species of fish. Even with that much species of fish inhabiting the river, the two species that are a delicacy to many are the Tilapia and the Mud-fish.
Living close to such a river does carry with it destructive problems. With a large population of people living close to the river, some of the problems that come up include;
- Frequent cutting down of trees that are close to the river
- Crop farming on the river banks
- Treating crops with chemicals that are harmful to water and fish that inhabit the river
- Waste dumping as plastic materials into the river by those living close to the river.
Advantages of Ghanaian rivers
Why are rivers so important?
Why would the government put in so much effort and resources to protect the rivers?
The answers to the above questions can be down to the following reasons.
Dams are very important resources in any country.
Ghana's dams offer a lifeline to the people in the country. Dams help reduce the chances of floods - they regulate the amount of water that can be allowed to flow from the dam to the rest of the river. In addition, the water held in dams can be used for irrigation to help n food production during the dry seasons.
Furthermore, dams also help in the production of electricity - the hydro electric plants that have been set up in the various rivers are responsible for the electricity that you use in your homes.
Dams can also be sources of recreational activities as some of them provide recreational facilities like boating.
2. Crop production
A substantial percentage of foods we consume on a regular basis can be attributed to irrigation from rivers. Since rivers are a good source of clean water suitable for irrigation, there is bound to be irrigation taking place close to a river.
There is a substantial number of irrigation schemes that come up or have already come up and are producing large quantities of food produce for domestic consumption as well as for the market. An example of such is the Dawheya Irrigation Scheme.
Point to note is, when rivers do flood, they carry with them quality soil suitable for crop production. Thus, crop production is at its best close to rivers all thanks to the silt from overflow water.
3. Habitats for plants and animals
Ghanaian rivers are home to a myriad of flora and fauna. They provide safe havens for wild ecosystem habiting the rivers.
It should be noted further that, rivers do posses a certain sacred power to them thus they occupy a certain religious importance.
4. Water sources
Rivers are also an important water source. Most water that we drink comes from rivers and so is water that we use in our daily chores as cleaning and for recreational purposes. A good example is the River Densu which provides drinking water to all the inhabitants of the places it passes through.
Some rivers can be a good means of transport. Be it transporting goods or people, you cannot take away the advantages of a river that is navigable, even if it is only navigable by a small ship.
Efforts the Ghanaian government is making to protect its rivers
The government is considering using drones to help in their efforts of securing its river's banks. In an effort to curb illegal mining activities and dumping of toxic waste into rivers. Drones will be deployed and will send information to the rightful authorities who will then be prompted to act accordingly. This plan began in 2017 and the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources stated that the drones would cost about $3 million.