Rivers, Lakes and Oceans

Kintampo Falls

The Volta Lake and River

The Volta River is the main fresh water source for Ghana. The Volta River is formed by the confluence of the Black Volta and the White Volta rivers at Yeji in the central part of the country. The river flows in a southerly course through Lake Volta to Ada on the Gulf of Guinea. The total length, including the Black Volta is 1, 500 km (930 miles).

Lake Volta was created by the construction of the Akosombo dam on the river in the mid 1960's. At about 8482 square km (3275 miles), the lake is one of the largest artificially created lakes in the world.

The Akosombo dam and another dam built at Kpong in 1981, 8 km (5 miles) downstream, provide enough power to meet Ghana's electricity needs.

The dam was created under the name of the Volta River Project which was undertaken by the Ghanaian government and funded in part by the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (World Bank), the United States and the United Kingdom. Construction was begun in 1961, and the water began to flow into Lake Volta in 1964. The lake submerged nearly 740 villiages and displaced about 80, 000 people. Approximately 70,000 were moved into newly constructed settlements, which were supposed to have small concrete houses, services such as schools and wells, and mechanized agriculture. Most of the settlements had major problems though, including poor dsign, inadequate water supply, slow clearance of farmland and and poor soil. within four yearsm the majority of the people had resettled elsewhere. Cases of water-related diseases, such as schistosomiasis and malaria were increased near the reservoir.

The constuction of the Akosombo dam was intended to encourage the establishment of new industries, stimulate agricultural development, and to provide opportunities for fishing and increased water transportation. The hydroelectric power produced by the dam was supposed to provide a reliable source of energy for large industries as well as export power to Togo and Benin, but in the early 1980's and early 1990's, very low water levels due to drought brought a halt to energy exports and interrupted industrial production. The lake was expected to provide water for irrigation treatments, but agricuture inb the resettlement areas remains marginal, with the only irrigation projects being taken by farmers on a small scale.

The lake has in fact hindered transportation and tradebetween northeastern and southern Ghana. Attempts to develop water transportation have had few results. Fishing has been more successful, although only 10% of the country's fish consumptioncomes frm Lake Volta.

The Volta Lake Research Project, established in 1968, has conducted research on the resettlement experience and on the ways to enhance the development potential of the region.

Boys fishing in the Volta


A satellite view showing the Volta River

Another shot of the Volta River & Akosombo Dam



Landforms Location Climate Soil & Vegetation Settlement Patterns