Increase in irrigation and hydropower facilities for food production and cheap power generation could impact the environment negatively. These impacts include loss of the actual wetlands as they are modified to suit particular irrigation practices and associated losses in biodiversity. These impacts can eventually lead to socio-economic hardships as local people are deprived of useful wetlands. If, for example, the Bui Dam is constructed in the future, positive impacts will include increased availability of hydropower for industrial and urban development. The major negative impacts will be those associated with loss of the forest reserves, which are particularly rich in biodiversity, including a wide range of animals. The construction of the Akosombo Dam for hydropower, which drastically changed the annual flooding downstream, also resulted in the loss of several lagoons and creeks in the estuary that served as important fishing grounds. Associated with the shift in the estuarine salt wedge was the loss of the clam and prawn fisheries in the main channel that were a major source of livelihood (MWH, 2000, 2001).

As indicator for the biophysical impact of climate change, or associated adaptation strategies, we choose the number of hectares of wetland lost. The total wetland in the basin now is estimated at 2 million ha. The climate predictions show generally wetter conditions in the Volta Basin, which implies there will be no loss of wetlands under projected climate change. The wetland indicator is still relevant for measuring the impact of adaptation strategies.

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