WACDEP: A unifying force in Ghana

The Water, Climate and Development Programme (WACDEP) is an initiative of The African Union (AU) Heads of States and Governments borne out of a declaration to improve water and human security. It is a three year programme being implemented in 8 African countries and 5 river basins including the White Volta Basin in Ghana. The project aims to promote water security and climate resilience development as a key component of socio-economic transformation of the people by strengthening decision making processes while ensuring coherence at all levels. As part of the project implementation process, a Field demonstration project is being implemented in the Upper East Region in the White Volta Basin.

The WACDEP demonstration project is to drive innovation in the implementation of no/low regret investments employing water security and climate resilient strategies on one hand while on the other hand, support the mainstreaming of such investments into development planning and decision making processes in the districts. This main objective is being achieved through four (4) strategic objectives;  Establishing current trends of the impacts of climate change;  Creating pathways to “Innovative Green Solutions” and climate-smart interventions; Supporting the decision making process regarding the implementation of no/low regret investments to guarantee the sustainability of livelihoods and Build resilience in water, food and energy resources against the increasing threat of climate change and estimate the returns to such green no/low regret investments.

The main aim of the demonstration project is to improve the ecosystem along the White Volta Basin and some identifiable catchment areas through community focused approach geared at enhancing livelihood of community members who are mainly subsistent farmers.The activities were designed with a gender mainstreaming perspective and were supported by various partner institutions in the land, water and water management agencies like Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) through the Departments of Agriculture in the three districts, Ghana Irrigation Development Agency (GIDA),  Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Ministry of Land and Natural Resources (MLNR), Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Forestry and Minerals Commissions etc. The Water Resources Commission through its White Volta Basin Secretariat (WVBS) performed the coordination role of the project which includes monitoring, reporting and technical backstopping.

As part of the process, a baseline survey was carried out in 2013 to determine the community needs assessment, possible ways through which these needs can be met and implementing stakeholders.  A second study, the socio economic and environmental analysis and logical framework development of field interventions for building sustainable use was also carried out in relation to further develop proposed activities and subtasks with appropriate timeline and budgets. Through the study, some communities were selected to commence the inception phase of the demonstration project in the Upper East region. Three communities were identified in two districts and one municipality notably; Tampezua in Bawku Municipality, Adaboya and Azum Sapeliga in the Bongo and Binduri districts respectively. Out of the identified partners, two institutions were chosen during the interactions to spearhead the field project. These institutions were the Department of Agriculture and the Forestry Services Department.  

Owing to reasons that ecosystem restoration were long term and WACDEP’s ecosystem restoration void of monetary reward, WACDEP adopted an alternative livelihood support as a means of diversifying farmer’s income while serving as a motivational backstopping to communities.

The strategic approach of WACDEP in Ghana spans beyond ecosystem restoration to focusing on livelihood support for communities all year round. Some of such component is the dry season farming and small ruminant support integrated into the ecosystem restoration. The provision of these support were strategic and very important to the livelihoods of the people in these selected communities. Under the dry seasoning farming support, WACDEP assisted farming communities with farm inputs including vegetable seeds: onion, cabbage, okro and green pepper seeds) and irrigation equipment or tools water pumping machines).


A 60 hectare area along the banks of the White Volta were identified to be put into sustainable management over a period of 5 years in Tampezua and Azum Sapeliga. This will contribute to restoring the buffer zone ecosystem, reduce erosion, minimize siltation with a resultant impact of controlling flooding in these communities. However, the width of the buffer zone varies in terms of available land, ranging from 50m to 90m. In Adaboya, the community identified the need to protect the catchment area of their community reservoir with a grafted mango plantation with a target of covering an area of one hectare. Using techniques and methodologies applied in other GWP regions and in consultation with community members and landowners with technical inputs from implementing agencies, a variety of tree species were considered including dichro, acacia, for stabilizing river banks while mango, mahogany and cashew were also planted for economic purposes. These trees will contribute to both the restoration of the ecosystems of the riverbanks and provide fruit that contribute to improving livelihood of farmers and reducing poverty.

As part of the implementation, the Forestry Service Division in charge of the Districts and the municipality, together with the communities, are expected to establish community nurseries for the supply of seedlings for planting along the banks of the White Volta River.

Ownership and sustainability

One key outcome of the intervention is the high social capital that is being developed among the participants in all three (3) communities. Though the people has grouped themselves into community groups and farmer groups within the three communities this practice has been strengthened by the project through capacity building. In all the 3 communities, there is a marked unity towards the project among participants.

A section of the members of Tampezua community engaged in the 
tree planting exercise with the FSD

  The initiatives in the Tampezua II just like the other community have been very successful. The community is and Azum Sapeliga have undertaken the tree planting as well as dry season farming initiatives In the Adaboya community, it is evident that women hold the highest stake in the project intervention. Under the leadership of the Queen mother, they have accepted their role as mothers of the project to ensure its success. Every woman in the community is actively involved in the implementation. As part of their duties, they have taken ownership of the planted trees and nursery. They take turns to water the plants and seedlings during the dry season every other day to ensure they grow well. In order to ensure the full participation of all the women in the watering exercise, attendance is taken whenever a group goes to water the plants and seedlings by the Secretary. A recent meeting in the community witnessed over 50 women in attendance with just about 10 men present. According to the Assemblyman of the community, the women virtually carry the project on their backs. He stated that without the women, the project would have either collapsed or would have been moved to another community.

“The tree planting exercise has been very helpful for the Adaboya community by helping us to unite. Formerly, participation in community activities and meetings was low but now, we have become more involved in the tree planting activities which has brought unity among the different sections of the community.” Zaliatu Abdul Malik, the secretary of the Adaboya women.

In Azum Sapelga, as part of the initiatives to sustain the dry seasoning farming activities and upscaling among all members of the Farmers Groups have decided to set aside part of the proceeds from the sale of the vegetables the project supported them to grow. They aim to open a Bank Account with this amount which they aim to grow by undertaken similar initiatives.

A man and woman pegging a bent mango tree at the catchment protection site in Adaboya

These initiatives by the participants show the strong ownership for the project. To them, the project is not for WACDEP but for them, since they are the direct beneficiaries. With this in mind, they have developed a strong commitment towards the successful closure of the project and continuous sustainability of its initiatives.

Gender interaction

There is high gender interaction in the project with the involvement of both male and females. The activities records high participation from men and women based in the community. Though there are established social roles among the communities, there is a high participation from both men and women from all the communities.The men and women are all involved in the activities. During the capacity building activities towards the dry season farming, there were men as well as women beneficiaries. Out of the 131 farmers who participated in the training session organized in Azum Sapelga, 59 of them were women. A second training had 33 female participants out of the 72 total number. Also, Tampezua for a similar training had 17 out of the 48 participants being women.

In relation to the seed distribution for the dry season farming, 69 beneficiaries with 29 females in Azum Sapeliga and 50 with 27 females in Tampezua benefited from this initiative.


A group of men enjoying a meal after the seedling planting.


The women also play a key role in other aspects of the project. In Tampezua, though it is not the social role of women to undertake nursery activities, with support from the Forestry Services Department, the women also participate by cooking for the community on the days they undertake such activities. This is known as the “Food for Work” initiative.

Institutional interaction

According to the Head of the Department of Agriculture in the Bawku Municipality, Mr. Akotiga, the project has brought together institutions in the Assembly who have never collaborated on any activity. To him, being one of the lead implementing partners on the project has given his department the opportunity to work together with other government departments such as Forestry Department. As part of the implementation process, the Departments of Agriculture of the three Assemblies have to work in close collaboration with the two Forestry Services Departments operating in the three communities. Due to the project, the officers of the Forestry Department and Departments of Agriculture in charge of executing the duties of the departments in the three communities are working jointly to ensure that the project objectives are achieved. The dry season farming and small ruminants initiatives been implemented by the Departments of Agriculture is complementing the tree planting exercise towards the buffer zone creation. This was done to give the communities some short term benefits from the project to encourage them to fully participate in the nursing, transplanting and watering of the trees planted towards the buffer zone creation exercise. The collaboration between the stakeholders has resulted in accelerated results for the projects. With the possibility of receiving vegetable seedlings, water pumps, goats and trees for planting in their homes as well as contributing towards their future, community participants were motivated to commit fully to the objectives of the project and own them to ensure sustainability. 

Progress made

The WACDEP field project was initiated with the aim to show the environmentally smart way of carrying out activities to be climate resilient and water secured. The activities were selected and carried out by the beneficiaries with a well-developed value chain plan. As part of the indicators for the success of the Water, Climate and Development project, the demonstration project was aimed at impacting 7,000 beneficiaries from the selected communities. With the limitation in funds leading to the reduction in the number of communities to be covered, the current beneficiaries are about 4,400 in all three communities.

Based on the Baseline and Sociological surveys carried out by WACDEP before the demonstration project was initiated it was noted that the communities of Azum Sapeliga, Tampezua and Adaboya were highly dependent on farming which formed the major source of income for the people.  All interventions were therefore skewed towards protecting and promoting the livelihood of the people. The field activities were planned to be carried out within a period of five years under the leadership of the Department of Agriculture in the three assemblies and the two Forestry Service division responsible for the three communities. The project is within its first year of implementation but has seen tremendous progress. These can be observed in two key areas; capacity building and agricultural assistance.

Capacity building

As part of the initiatives towards the Buffer zone and Catchment protection creation, the Departments of Agriculture and Forestry Services Divisions implementing the project in the 3 communities have carried out capacity building trainings as per their mandate.

Two communities, Tampezua and Azum Sapeliga have gone through series of trainings on agricultural practices. The topics were informed from discussions with farmers to assess their capacity needs.

For Tampezua, the main concern of participants was for the need for increased knowledge in nursing of seedlings for field planting. The Department of Agriculture of the Bawku Municipal Assembly conducted a training session on sustainable dry season farming for participants on nursery and water management. The training involved 48 participants with 17 females with the objectives to enhance the germination and growth of vegetables seedlings; reduce the incidence of diseases, pest and loss of seedling at the nursery as well as the costs associated with raising seedlings and produce quality seedlings for field planting.  

A total of 203 farmers including 92 females participated in two training sessions in Azum sapeliga the training organised by the Department of Agriculture in Binduri. Some of the issues addressed in the first training were General characteristics of Upper East Region soils, Soil fertility, Organic matter content, How to conserve soil and water, Organic matter usage (compost making and usage, Afforestation (Tree growing), among others. The second training dealt with issues such as choice of vegetable production venture (what to produce; choose high value crops); Source of good; Site selection for vegetable production and Land preparation (contouring and leveling).


The community nursery established at Tampezua by participants and officers of the Forestry Services Division.

As part of the ongoing afforestation process, the Forestry Officers also built on the training of participants and established a nursery in each of the three communities towards the initiative. However, it must be noted that in Adaboya, the project benefited from a Ghana Social Opportunity Project (GSOP) well protected area for its seedlings. On the average, each nursery contains 600 seedlings with trees like acacia, mango. Trees are planted by farmers to restore the riverbanks. These trees will contribute towards poverty reduction through the blend   of economic as well as forest trees. The trees are also expected to serve as barriers and contribute to reducing the negative impacts of annual flooding during the rainy seasons. The trees (buffer zone) are expected to improve water quality by contributing to trapping sediment and influencing local climate. Diverse tree species planted possess medicinal properties and also provide building materials for the communities. Moreover the trees will provide feed (forage) for livestock.

The training exposed farmers to the various strategies that can be used to raise good seedlings for dry   season farming.

The team from MOFA was able to level of capacity of the farmers and plans for more training session to address the concern of farmers. On the other hand MOFA plans to use demonstration or farmer field schools as its training strategy to get farmers adopt new technologies.

Agricultural support

As part of the vegetable seeds demanded by the beneficiaries are Okro, Onion (Galmi), Watermelon, Tomatoes, Green Pepper, Cabbage and Groundnut. Other agricultural inputs demanded by farmers include Water Pumping Machine and Accessories, Fertilizers, Knapsack sprayers and Agro-chemicals for crop protection. Out of the total of sixty nine (69) direct beneficiaries of the vegetable seeds twenty nine (29) were females and forty (40) were males.

A participant of the small ruminate initiatives in Adadoya with her goat and its goat 

Lessons learned

Exhibiting a high sense of community participation in the field demonstration implementation, farmers have demonstrated commitment to the process using local materials and resources, constructing mud walls around the fruit trees and continuous watering of the plants during the dry season.

As a result of GWP facilitation and with support from the District Department of Agriculture and Forestry Service Division, the communities have learned to organize themselves better and set up community monitoring teams; trained farmers on nursery establishment and maintenance, tree planting and protection techniques. They are sensitised to create buffer zones in order to safeguard the lands for farming. Farmers were also trained on sustainable dry season farming and soil and water conservation techniques to introduce or build their capacities on best farming practice. Government services are contributing to the implementation of the activities because it is part of their mandate included in the Government agenda at district level to contribute to the improvement of the living conditions of the populations.