Integrated approach to Flood and Drought Management in the Volta Basin

Volta Basin FloodsOver the last 20 years, some two million people along the stretch of the Volta have been affected by floods – mainly the 68% of the population working in the agricultural sector.

The Volta River Basin covers a region of about 400 000 km2 with a population of approximately 29 million. The Volta Basin runs through the semi-arid to sub-humid areas of six countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Togo. The Basin is highly vulnerable to meteorological and hydrological events. Baseline socio-economic issues in the region are today exacerbated by considerable changes in the climate over recent decades – a reduction in precipitation and temperature increase. And the climate is expected to keep changing. Scientists predict that the dry seasons will be longer and drier, while the monsoon seasons will become shorter with more intense precipitation. If climate change adaption measures are not implemented, food security will be threatened, farmers will lose their livelihood and the number of people living in informal settlements in the high-risk flood prone zones of urban centres will increase.

National agencies in the Volta Basin countries, mainly National Hydrological and Meteorological Services (NMHSs), are acutely aware of the need to prepare the region for the socio-economic and environmental impacts of climate change. They identified the implementation of an integrated water resources management strategies and the development of risk maps and early warning systems as priorities to increase resilience and ensure sustainable development in the region. Other needs identified include the integration of disaster risk reduction strategies into national development and climate adaptation plans, the enhancement of synergies and coordination mechanisms at regional, national and local levels to foster integrated flood and drought management and the availability of standardized data, especially real-time data, and the development of coordinated information channels and procedures for end-to-end early warning system. At the ground level, communities at risk requires training and knowledge on early warning systems and strategies to manage disaster risks and get actively involved in preparedness and contingency plans.

WMO, in partnership with the Volta Basin Authority and the Global Water Partnerships (GWP)-West Africa, with the support of the national agencies of the six riparian countries developed and submitted a regional climate adaptation project proposal covering all of these aspects to the Adaptation Fund. The proposal, for US$ 7.92 million, was endorsed by the Adaptation Fund Board for implementation in October 2018.

The Volta Basin project uses an integrated approach to strengthen targeted national agencies and community level resilience and adaptation capacity to the impact of climate change events – floods and drought. It is based on the framework for Integrated Flood Management (IFM) and Integrated Drought Management (IDM), which has been promoted by the Associated Programme on Flood Management (APFM) and Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP) for the past 17 years.

The four-year Volta project, officially launched in June 2019. The main objective is to assist the six countries in the implementation of coordinated and joint measures to improve their existing flood and drought management plans at regional, national and local level. This will be achieved by building on the lessons learned from the past as well as on current and ongoing projects related to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.


Project objectives and components

The project has three specific objectives:

  1. Develop capacity and established frameworks at the local, national and regional levels to ensure risk informed decision-making
  2. Develop concrete adaptation and environmentally-friendly actions using an integrated approach
  3. Strengthen policy and institutional capacity for integrated flood and drought management at the local, national and trans-boundary levels.

These will be delivered through three components: risk prevention, concrete adaptation and stakeholder engagement, and governance.

Current and future areas of vulnerability, capacities for flood and drought management, exposures and risks (defined as VCERs in the project proposal) information will be identified in the first component in order to develop local, national and regional flood and drought risk maps. During capacity building sessions, climate scenarios will be gathered and disseminated to stakeholders, together with the risk maps, to study the possible impact of climate change on the zones identified. Stakeholders recommendations on these will be integrated into the climate change adaptation approaches and disaster risk strategies. Indicators and tools will also be provided to stakeholders to raise awareness of how the ecosystem functions to our benefit as human well-being and the importance of protecting and restoring them. These tools will help stakeholders to contribute to preserving wetlands and other areas of transboundary importance such as biodiversity hot-spots.

The second component will provide the basis for an integrated flood and drought management approach in the region, through the data and information systems and the early warning systems that will be put in place in the Basin. The development and implementation of the End-to-End Early Warning System for floods and drought at the scale of the Volta Basin is the key output of the project. The open-source platform will be used to connect the meteorological, hydrological, climatological, VCERs databases and other validated outputs, such as hydrological modelling systems, decision support and early warnings, from related projects and initiatives at the local, national and regional level. To improve the sharing of information, the Early Warning System will cover the complete risk reduction value chain – from vulnerability and risk mapping to forecasting, warning dissemination and decision support. The operational use of the new End-to-End Early Warning platform will be supported by a series of pilot tests in various sub-basins and vulnerable areas, which have diverse socio-environmental conditions. Capacity development activities will be carried out to ensure an adequate uptake of the new products, services and tools. Moreover, self-help modules on nature-based solutions and gender-sensitive participatory approaches will be developed at the local and national levels.

“…each of the Volta Basin countries must have Hydrometeorological information to prevent and manage the harmful effects of climate change. But also and above all take steps to offer better living conditions to the populations living in the Volta Basin.” 
- Colonel Martial Mé, representing the Minister of Water and Forests, Côte d’Ivoire at the project Inception workshop

Component 3 will explore the benefits of the project’s implementation in order to revise or develop new policies, plans and guidelines on disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Adaptation measures and strategies that align with environmental and social policies as well as with gender principles will be discussed at local levels to increase resilience to floods and drought. The participation and engagement of local stakeholders will facilitate the adoption of the strategies for the disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation and result in long-term sustainability.


Status and expected results

Implementation of the Volta Basin Flood and Drought management project started at the Inception workshop held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on 25 and 26 June 2019. The first step was to understand current capabilities and needs for the End-to-End Early Warning System for Floods and Drought through the carrying out of national consultation meetings with stakeholders in the six countries. The platform – fully integrated with existing information and products for floods and drought management – will be rolled out to stakeholders at the end of the first year, in June 2020.

Tentative Pilot SitesFigure 2: Tentative pilot sites for testing the End-to-End Early Warning System

The project will develop the underlying capacity of national and regional institutions to maintain long-term sustainability and to scale up the results. It will support stakeholders at all levels by providing policy and management guidance and by sharing scientific information, knowledge and best practices for Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation. The six riparian countries will benefit from a basin-wide transboundary management framework to ensure long-term environmental and economic development. The region will have concrete solutions to alleviate a potential increase of vulnerability due climate change and to build an effective network of actors to address climate adaptation issues.

The project’s wide training curriculum – covering aspects ranging from hazard and risk mapping, water resources management, hydrological outlooks, community-based flood management, agrometeorology, integrated drought management, etc. – will provide technical support and new decision-support tools for national operational centres.

The joint activities of the partner organizations, such as requirements specifications, installation of equipment in the NMHSs and provision of new information to the public, field work in the pilot testing locations will also foster exchanges, create groups of users and form trainers, who will take up project ownership in the future and prolong the project efforts.



The long-term sustainability of the project achievements will be dependent on the meteorological, hydrological and climatological data and related products from the NMHSs of riparian countries. Several – as well as other agencies in charge of environmental protection – have already provided support letters to ensure the long-term transfer of information from the national databases to continue operations of the forthcoming transboundary Early Warning System coordination unit.

International organizations and financial institutions will be invited to follow the project success stories and to identify other needs at local, national and regional levels. These will potentially lead to new funding sources or develop synergies with other on-going and future projects in the six countries.


Project Donors and Partners

Adaptation Fund Logo   APFM IDMP Logo    APFM IDMP Logo      GWP WA Logo    VBA Logo




By Robert Dessouassi, Volta Basin Authority

Armand Houanye, Global Water Partnership - West Africa

Hwirin Kim, WMO Secretariat

Giacomo Teruggi, WMO Secretariat

Ramesh Tripathi, WMO Secretariat


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