Ghana appoints 25 environmental chiefs in Upper East Region to tackle climate change

In a bid to tackle climate change and its global impacts, the Paramount chief of the Bongo Traditional Area in the Upper East Region in Ghana, Naba Salifu Atamale Lemyarim, appointed 25 environmental chiefs. The event was organised by Water Resources Commission together with the Blue Deal Ghana.

A tree planting nursery in Ghana for the Blue Deal

The environmental chiefs have been tasked with the responsibility to sensitise people within their catchment areas on the dangers of tree felling, and also to encourage the planting of more trees.

Failed measures and the need for conservation

The coordinator for Blue Deal Ghana, Jaap Bos, highlighted the urgency of the situation, attributing current weather patterns in the Northern, Upper East and North East Regions in Ghana to failed measures. He also stressed the need for conservation efforts, including forest reserves and tree planting.

Unsustainable harvesting of shea and dawadawa trees

The board chairman for White Volta Basin, Dr. Sylvester Darko, commended the chiefs for accepting the challenge in the fight to save the environment. He warned of the changing cultural, economic, social, and political practices influenced by climate change. He also emphasised the detrimental effects on economic activities, such as the unsustainable harvesting of shea and dawadawa trees for charcoal production, which adversely impacts the environment negatively.

“As we all know climate variability has come to stay with us and its effect has been felt especially on our cash trees. The dawadawa and shea trees do not produce fruits as well as before. It’s high time we institute measures in our communities to tackle the situation”, he added.

Traditional authorities to combat climate change

The environmental chiefs concept began in November 2023, when the Blue Deal team engaged traditional authorities in the Bongo Traditional Area on the need to build governance structures to combat climate change. The Blue Deal suggested that the traditional authority should be given the power to sanction and lead their communities towards a safe environment.

This article has been reposted from GBC Ghana. Read the complete article.

Culture Map shows differences and similarities Ghana and the Netherlands

In February, the Dutch Blue Deal team organised a Culture Day together with their Ghanaian Blue Deal colleagues. The main goal was to understand each other’s work cultures better. This ultimately helps in a more effective cross-cultural collaboration.

Since 2019, the Dutch Blue Deal team has worked together with several colleagues from the Ghanaian Water Resources Commission. During that time they got to know each other well. In the workplace, but also personally, outside of office hours. This has already created interesting situations and challenges in their cross-cultural communication. This could have something to do with cultural differences.

How well do we really know each other’s cultures?

So the Dutch and Ghanaian colleagues took the time to ask themselves the questions: how well do we really know each other’s cultures? Do we know the mutual differences and similarities and how can we use them as advantages in our collaboration? During the recent working visit in February, all Blue Deal members travelled to Accra to create a Culture Map during a special Culture Day. We focused on having more in-depth conversations about each other’s cultures by discussing perceptions, cultural differences, and expectations, to improve certain work situations. Because your culture affects you as a person, but also how you act in the workplace and how you work together.

Culture Map

The common thread of this day was the Culture Map. This is a method by Erin Meyer that provides more insight into a work culture by evaluating a work culture on 8 scales. Consider, for example, the way of communicating: is it very direct and clear in your culture or indirect and do you have to read between the lines in a conversation? Or what about the power distance: is there always a strict hierarchy in the workplace or can you approach the boss directly? These are all questions that started the conversations. Based on concrete examples from the collaboration, they learned more about each other’s doings and actions. The result was a Culture Map of the Netherlands and Ghana in which differences and similarities are clearly mapped out on the scales.

Insight and understanding

The Culture Day has given the team more insight and understanding of each other’s culture, but it has certainly strengthened their bond. They now know better where someone else is coming from and also understand their own actions and frustrations better from time to time. This ultimately helps in a more effective collaboration. Some examples of the conclusions of the Culture Day:

  • In terms of communication style the 2 cultures stand quite far apart from each other on the scale. In the Netherlands, people are very direct, whereas Ghana has a more implicit style of communication. Working in such a cross-cultural team, it would be useful to make more explicit recaps and summaries of meetings to catch any misunderstandings or confusions.
  • When it comes to making progress in the Blue Deal programme, the scale of ‘Deciding’ in the Culture Map is also an interesting one to highlight. The 2 cultures also stand quite far apart from each other on this scale, but there are some easy tips to make the cross-cultural collaboration more effective. For example, it starts with awareness about the differences and together they could try to discuss and decide upon a decision-making method and work that out explicitly. Later, when big decisions must be made, they can revisit the decision-making process to make sure it is generally understood and accepted.
  • In the Netherlands we are keen on being tightly organised and would very much like to create a detailed programme for a work visit, full of appointments. But in the Ghanaian work culture it is very normal to draw up an outline for a programme with main goals and also leave sufficient room for strengthening the personal relationship. The latter definitely has its advantages. This gave the team the insight that they will now try to make the programme of the next work visit somewhat based on Dutch work culture, but mainly on the basis of Ghanaian work culture.

Recommendation for other Blue Deal teams

It is valuable to take a moment to look at your own culture and others. Because you normally see the world from our own cultural perspective. Therefore, it is difficult to imagine that another culture might do things differently. But when you start to identify what is typical in your own culture, but different in others, then you can begin to open a dialogue of sharing, learning, and, ultimately, understanding. So take time to talk about each other’s work cultures and create your own Culture Map.

The Blue Deal also provides a mandatory training ‘Working with Other Cultures’ for Dutch experts who travel abroad for the Blue Deal. Read a report on one of these trainings.

Blue Deal Regional Meeting Africa

From 7 to 10 July, a Regional Meeting will take place in Kenya, gathering Blue Deal partnerships from 7 countries. This event serves as a follow-up to the Blue Deal Congress held in Amsterdam in June 2023.

A workshop during the Blue Deal Congress, where the idea for the regional meeting originated

Topics in Amsterdam were, among others, water pricing and nature-based solutions. During the meetings in this congress week, mutual exchange proved promising on a number of water themes. One thing in particular was shared among the participants: to further deepen these initial contacts, and to share and learn from each other’s experiences. The result is the Blue Deal Regional Meeting in Kenya.

Countries and themes

Kenya, Ghana, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Eswatini have indicated that they will participate in July 2024 in this Regional Blue Deal Meeting. Blue Deal Kenya is gracious enough to host the event in Mombasa. The following 3 issues will be part of the exchange:

  1. Water pricing
  2. Funding for water projects
  3. Funding and governance for nature-based solutions

Advantages of exchange

The partnerships participating in the event foresee many advantages of the exchange:

  • Facilitate the exchange of knowledge and best practices at the international level;
  • Discuss challenges of water management through intervision;
  • Explore the advantages of international cooperation;
  • Deepen and share insights on elevating the importance of water on the political agenda;
  • Strengthen the consortia of Blue Deal/Waterworx (a similar programme to the Blue Deal, initiated by the Dutch drinking water companies) and National Entities.

The regional meeting in Africa can also provide valuable input for the broader Blue Deal programme’s learning activities, such as the Communities of Practice.

Work visit to North and South Ghana

From 4 to 11 November a Blue Deal work visit took place in Ghana. The Dutch team met with their Ghanaian partners in several parts of Ghana, both in the North and the South. We talked about the current projects, saw the progress during field visits, and made plans for 2024 and further on.

In Ghana the Dutch Blue Deal team works in the North in the White Volta Basin and in the South in the Lower Volta Delta on various projects concerning governance, reforestation, planning, water safety and water quality.

Transboundary collaboration with Burkina Faso

During the visit in November the team in the North of Ghana had several meetings about the governance structure of the water resources management. For example, a delegation of the Blue Deal Burkina Faso team also joined the Ghana visit and talked about transboundary collaboration. The purpose of this meeting was to explore how to enhance the transboundary cooperation between Ghana and Burkina Faso. Since Ghana and Burkina Faso share the same water basin, it is imperative to exchange knowledge and to adapt the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plans to one another. It was decided that a plan will be made to achieve better and structural cooperation. The first action is to set up a monthly online meeting between Ghana and Burkina Faso.


Also in the North there was a field visit to the Bongo Reforestation project. This project is implemented by Tree Aid Ghana and funded by Trees for All. The proposal for funding for this project was supported and facilitated by the Blue Deal team and the Water Resources Commission. This is to rehabilitate degraded areas in the catchment of the Yaragatanga River which feeds the Vea Reservoir and protects the Buffer Zones of its tributaries. The Blue Deal team visited a reforestation site and spoke with the community members about the challenges they face in keeping the planted trees alive. Challenges mainly concern water shortage in the dry season and cattle and other livestock who eat the young trees. Fortunately, many trees that were planted 2 years ago have already grown taller than some of the tall Dutch Blue Deal members.

Flooding in the South

In the South of Ghana the recent flooding in the Lower Volta Delta had an effect on the programme for the visit in November. Major damage was done to the livelihoods around the Volta River, but fortunately no human lives were lost. Since the area is still flooded and local stakeholders are focussed on offering help to the local communities, many of the meetings took place in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. The Blue Deal team discussed the flooding with the Water Resources Commission and other relevant stakeholders, such as the involved Ministries, in relation to the current plans that we work on together. The saying ‘never waste a good crisis’ is tough, but during a crisis we often become resourceful and see opportunities that we would otherwise miss. This situation emphasises the need of better integrated water management and the set-up of a Delta program. During the visit in November important steps were taken to set-up the Delta programme and start with the pilot project of the Sand Motor, a nature-based solution that has to help against flooding from the sea.

Difficulties with dams

Next to this a part of the Dutch Blue Deal team in the South visited 2 dam sites, the Owabi Dam and Barakesi Dam, together with local stakeholders. Here we investigated whether or not a pre-feasibility study would be beneficial for 1 of these dams. On site, we discussed the problems the stakeholders are experiencing in regards to the dams themselves (structure) and the catchment of the reservoirs. For example for the Owabi Dam, there are serious worries about the safety of the dam and silting is a big issue. For the Barekesi Dam, mining and deforestation for agricultural purposes (encroachment) are the most pressing issues. Together with the Ghanaian partners the Dutch team will further explore for which dam Integrated Water Resources Management might be a good process to start solving the issues.

Blue Deal session about Social inclusion in IWRM

On September 12, the Blue Deal presented a session during Partners for Water's Day ‘Social Inclusion in Water Climate Adaptation – making a Transformation’ in Utrecht.

“We need to bend the beam of observation upon ourselves”, says Martin Kalungu-Banda of the Ubuntu.Lab institute, one of the speakers during the plenary programme. Are we always doing as well as we think we do or should we sometimes look at ourselves more critically? The room is full of people from the water sector, from NGOs and organizations such as the Blue Deal. All with the beautiful intention of supporting others worldwide. But this requires that we work on the right things and especially with the people involved. “We’re trying to help, but we forget to listen,” notes one of the participants of the day.

Within the Blue Deal we try to do this through stakeholder participation. During the session ‘Working bottom up in Integrated Water Resources Management: how to implement an Area Oriented Approach to maximize sustainability and inclusiveness’, about 20 people from different organizations were present and 3 examples from the Blue Deal were discussed.

Communities map top 10 issues

Priscilla Daddah, Young Expert for the Blue Deal partnership in Ghana, explains during the session how the partnership involved stakeholders by working with 3 communities to map the top 10 issues for the Lower Volta Songor region. They also jointly drew up a Community-based Resource Management Plan (CREMA).

Using traditional tribal hierarchy

Bertho Bulthuis, water expert from the Blue Deal partnership in Burkina Faso, explains how they use the traditional tribal hierarchy within his partnership. “This is an already existing structure, able to connect people in the communities.” Of course, there are also disadvantages to this, Bulthuis admits. Because these structures do not represent everyone either. Another challenge he mentions is that many people in the area cannot always focus on anything else besides their daily needs. “It’s not always easy to look towards the future to things like climate mitigation and adaptation, when you are struggling for daily needs, like food for the day.”

Future base camp

Tanah Meijers, from the Blue Deal partnership in Kenya, talks about the ‘Bring Njururi back to the river’ project. This project is about restoring the water beetle (Njururi) to the Thika river in Upper Tana, Kenya. The water beetle symbolizes good water quality and a healthy ecosystem.

Stakeholder participation also plays a major role in this project. For this purpose, the team organized a so-called future base camp. About 120 people from various social groups and organizations in the area came together for a few days of camping. Together they thought about how they would like to shape the future in their region and how they could achieve this. Meijers: “We were looking for common ground, because everybody is part of the solution. Together, we drew a map. What is happening today? What are the challenges we face? And what do we need to do to get the water beetle back?”


After the presentations of the case studies, participants of the Blue Deal session discussed in 3 groups about how to scale an inclusive sustainable bottom-up approach on IWRM: how to implement a jointly drafted sub-catchment plan and maximise sustainability and inclusiveness? Below some of the discussion outcomes:

  • Formalisation of the effort of local organisations is necessary (mandate/ status);
  • Make use of current systems of formalised governments;
  • As soon as you scale up, the balance between bottom-up and top-down can get lost, it is a battle to fight for the rights in a bottom-up approach. Be aware of these issues;
  • There will be a political battle/competition about livelihood needs and less on water needs when you scale up. Be aware of these aspects;
  • Choose your local champions to scale your approach;
  • Keep reflecting: is everyone really included?
  • Clear benefits and responsibilities are necessary to get everyone on board;
  • Realisation of the needs: analyse the needs in an area thoroughly;
  • These processes take time. Spend time on raising awareness in your project

Get in touch

Want to know more about the outcomes of these 3 cases? Reach out to to get in touch with one of the speakers.

Blue Deal Ghana visits Sand Motor in Togo and Benin 

From 9 until 12 May a group of representatives of the Ghanaian government and the Dutch Blue Deal Programme paid a visit to the Sand Motor project in Togo and Benin. The visit is part of the cooperation between Ghanaian organisations and the Blue Deal Programme.

Delta Programme

Since the Blue Deal Programme focusses on the exchange of knowledge, good governance and capacity building, this visit was of great value. One part of the Blue Deal activities in Ghana is setting up a Delta Programme with the cooperating organisations for the coast of Ghana to deal with issues such as sea level rise, erosion and salt intrusion. A long-term plan, a Delta Fund, Delta laws and an overarching governance structure can be part of this Delta Programme.

The Dutch Blue Deal members were accompanied by the Ghanaian Water Resources Commission (WRC), a coordinating NGO for Delta Issues in Ghana, a representative of the district assemblies in the Lower Volta Delta, the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) and the Hydrological Service Authority (Hydro). Together they are taking the first steps into the development of the Delta Programme.

Sand Motor in Togo and Benin

Since 2022 the Dutch company Boskalis started the Sand Motor project along the coast of Togo and Benin as part of the West African Coastal Areas Management (WACA) programme. The main goal is to protect 40 kilometres of the coastline from the east of Togo to the west of Benin from erosion. The project includes the construction of new groynes and the rehabilitation of existing groynes. In addition, beaches are raised with more than 1 million cubic meters of sand. Finally, a Sand Motor of 6.4 million cubic meters is constructed on the Benin side of the border.

This Sand Motor is an innovative way of protecting the coastline by ejecting sand on the beaches through a submerged pipe. A large amount of sand is placed in strategic places, which over time spreads along the coastline due to the natural movement of wind, waves and currents. This principle of building with nature strengthens and maintains the coastline in a robust and natural way.

Nature Based Solutions and local involvement

The visit to Benin and Togo was a great opportunity to learn more about nature-based solutions like the Sand Motor and to work together with different organisations to set meaningful next steps in the protection of the coast of Ghana. Boskalis guided us along the coast to visit the various construction sites. They stressed the importance of the cooperation with the local people and local governments. Although on some locations the people started to oppose, it turned out very soon that they became strong supporters of this approach. Because the flood safety for the local communities is improved, the entrance to the sea is always guaranteed and ownership is established, and no fishing grounds have been destroyed.

The exchange of experiences with Togo and Benin about their approach was very fruitful for the Ghanaian organisations and the Delta Programme team learned from the strategies of Togo and Benin to protect the coasts. To broaden the knowledge, some participants of the meeting will also be visiting the Sand Motor along the coast in the Netherlands in June during the Blue Deal Congress.

Blue Deal Ghana: successfully connecting water to other relevant themes

In March, the Blue Deal Ghana team went on a work visit for 2 weeks to meet with many new stakeholders outside the water sector. By meeting stakeholders outside the water sector, the Blue Deal Ghana is trying to get water challenges higher on the political agenda.

The goal of these meetings is to work together with other partners, besides the Water Resources Commission (WRC), and to connect the water themes to other relevant themes. In this way, the water challenges will come higher on the political agenda. The project team met with partners such as the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation (MESTI), the Hydrological Authority (HYDRO), the Ministry of Works and Housing (MWH) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Regional: bottom-up

During the visit in March, the project team started with the implementation of the Area Oriented Approach in the Songor Lagoon in the south of Ghana. An Integrated Water Resources Management plan for the Lower Volta Basin is almost completed by the WRC and the area of the Songor Lagoon is selected as a pilot area to start the implementation of the overall plan. A big challenge in this area is mangrove depletion.

However, the area faces many more water related challenges. For this reason the Ghanaian and Dutch team shared knowledge on conducting an Area Oriented Approach and guided in the process of starting it. During a workshop with around 45 stakeholders from the area (such as representatives of the communities, the Forestry Commission and NGO’s) different cohesive issues were brought up and concrete actions to solve these issues were identified. In this way the pilot project will have a more multidisciplinary and holistic approach. The water challenges in the Songor area are now brought bottom-up to the political agenda of the WRC.

Next to this, the Blue Deal met with the governor of the Upper East Region to talk about the water related challenges in the area. The main outcome is that water themes will be scheduled during regional meetings with for example District Assemblies, chiefs and subbasin committees.


To get the water challenges higher on the political national agenda the project team met with many new stakeholders during the work visit. The goal is to work together with other national partners, and with the WRC, to connect the water themes to other relevant themes. The Delta programme that we have in the Netherlands is of great interest for Ghana, since the country faces many challenges in the Lower Volta Delta and along the whole coast. Therefore, the Blue Deal team endorses to set up a Delta programme. For this reason the team met with MESTI, WRC, HYDRO, MWH and EPA to assess the challenges in the Delta and strengthen the cooperation in the future.

Next to this, the Blue Deal team had several meetings with the Netherlands Commission of Environmental Assessment (NCEA). They came with the Blue Deal team to Ghana to address their work on a national level and start the cooperation in current and new programmes, policies and plans (such as land use plans or water catchment plans). Their aim is to ensure that the environmental and social consequences of proposed activities are incorporated into decision making, through an inclusive process. Together with the Blue Deal team the NCEA met with the EPA.

The connection of the EPA and the Blue Deal team secures the holistic approach of water resources management within the work of the EPA. In the near future the NCEA will provide independent advice through Strategic Environmental Assessments (SEA) for the catchment plans of the WRC and will provide guidelines and training to work on capacity development of SEA with the WRC, EPA and other involved stakeholders.

Another example of making sure water challenges are of more importance on a national level, the Dutch team assesses climate issues like reforestation. In the Bongo District a successful reforestation project is already set-up. In this way the Blue Deal becomes more relevant to the Dutch Embassy, which for their part have influence on a national level.

Transboundary cooperation

Ghana faces many water related challenges that they can not solve all by themselves. Therefore, the cooperation of Ghanaian and Dutch water partners also supports to look on a transboundary governance level for cooperation and effective solutions. Such as the sand motor that is now set-up in Benin to protect the coast from further erosion. In the next few months a broad delegation of the Ghanian partners will visit this project to explore the options for their own coastal protection. Small scale cooperation between the partners along sub catchments that are part of as well Burkina Faso as Ghana should also gain more attention in the Area Oriented Approach of the Blue Deal programme in the Upper East Region.

More than 200,000 trees planted in Ghana

At the end of October and beginning of November, the Blue Deal Ghana project team travelled to Ghana again for a work visit. The programme included work sessions and field visits to see the progress of the projects in the different regions and to discuss the planning for the next months. Some highlights of the work visit.

In Ghana, the Blue Deal partnership works in the north in the White Volta and in the south in the Lower Volta Delta on various projects in areas such as governance, planning and water quality.

In the middle of this year, more than 200,000 trees have been planted along the riverbanks to protect them against erosion and to restore the groundwater level. Including last year, the count now stands at more than a quarter of a million trees. The financier of this project, Trees for All, wanted to see and monitor the result with their own eyes. That is why they joined this working visit. Together with the Blue Deal, they visited 11 communities and 2 tree nurseries.

Keeping the trees alive is a challenge in this environment, where drought, insects and damage by livestock threaten the young seedlings. Where necessary, a protection of mud is built around each tree (“mud wall”). However, this requires a lot of time from the communities and Erik de Bruijne devised a “mould” and had it made by a local blacksmith to see if making a mud wall could be done faster and more effectively. It has been tested in many places in the field and has proven to be a success.

Meetings White Volta Basin Board and Gambaga Sub-basin Committee

The White Volta Basin Board met again for the first time in 3 years; that was not possible before because of the corona crisis. This Board is responsible for the implementation of the integral Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plan White Volta and the determination of the sub-basins sub-plans. The White Volta Basin is divided into 9 sub-basins, each with a Sub-basin Committee. However, the Committees are not yet active, except for the Kpasenkpe Sub-basin Committee. This has been activated with the help of Blue Deal in Phase 1 of the Blue Deal and a sub-basin IWRM plan has been drawn up. The meeting of the White Volta Basin Board was a success, with the approval of the IWRM plan of the Sub-basin Committee Kpasenkpe as an important milestone.

In Phase 2, the Blue Deal will support the activation of other sub-basins, starting with the Gambaga Sub-basin. As a first step, a kick-off meeting was organized with the members of the Gambaga Subbasin Committee. In particular, the learning experiences of the Kpasenkpe Subbasin Committee were central.

Much more

In addition, during the work visit, work was done on an IWRM plan for the Lower Volta Delta in the south of Ghana. During the work visit, attention was also paid to the Songor region, where the Ghanaian partners and Deltares have been working on a number of products in recent months, such as: a socio-economic analysis of the Songor region, a system analysis for mangrove restoration, water quality measurements, a drainage map and a map showing the condition of felled and existing mangroves.

Ghanaian Delta programme explored

At the end of November 2021, the Dutch water experts from Dutch Water Authorities paid a visit to their Blue Deal partner in Ghana. During the multi-day working visit, the Dutch Delta Programme was on the agenda as a source of inspiration for Ghana.

The Ghanaian partners are looking for more structure, more integrality, better frameworks and better long-term solutions. The Delta Programme offers a long-term vision and scenario planning for climate change and socio-economic growth. The Blue Deal partners are exploring what a similar approach could mean for Ghana and how it could be linked to the Inegrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) plan.

The partners also paid a working visit to the north of Ghana to improve the water management of the Vea Dam and the Tono Dam. Because sand washes back into the waterways and reservoirs, the water and soil quality worsens. Because the water is not clean, residents are forced to get their water elsewhere. The partners are therefore committed to improving the water quality and the quality of life for residents, among other things.

First physical work visit to Ghana since coronavirus

The first physical working visit to Ghana (since the coronavirus lockdown) took place! At the end of July, the Ghanaian and Dutch partners saw each other again after 1.5 years of purely digital contact.

They immediately started with field visits in the various regions and live stakeholder meetings to see the progress of the projects with their own eyes. For example, the integrated water management plan is increasingly taking shape. Watch the video here.