Rehabilitation works have commenced on the Vea Water Supply Dam and Irrigation Scheme in the Bongo district of the Upper East Region, a year after sod cutting, but it is facing funding uncertainties.
The scope of rehabilitation works on the facility currently ongoing has been modified and it is unclear whether the rehabilitation works would be completed within the 30 months originally scheduled period.
In March 2022, the government through the Ministry of Food and Agriculture handed over the facility to Messers Rann Luuk Limited, a Ghanaian owned company to rehabilitate.
It was expected to be completed within two and half years under the supervision of the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA).
Initially, the total cost of the whole rehabilitation works was GH₵237 million and it was to be funded by the Government of Ghana, from budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
The scope of work was to include the desilting and reconstruction of the two main canals, lateral canals, sub-lateral canals, base of the dam wall to ensure stability, drainage systems, inner roads and perimeter protection around the irrigable area.
The Ministry of Finance, however, demanded among other things justification of returns on the amount to be invested in the project in accordance with the Ministry’s new policy and such bureaucracy caused a delay in the start of the rehabilitation on the facility for a year.
At a stakeholder meeting at Gowrie to officially communicate the nature of the work to be done, Mr Philemon Yankson, the Director of Project Development, GIDA, explained that due to inflation the initial amount of GH₵237 million could no longer fund the entire rehabilitation works.
As a result, the project was undergoing rescoping to secure funding from the World Bank, which had expressed interest in supporting the rehabilitation works of the facility.
He indicated that although the rehabilitation works had started, the contractor was currently working with a varied agreement, which would focus on only the right main canal and lateral canals but not the entire project originally signed unto.
“The World Bank is currently seeking Parliamentary approval, so as soon as they are done and we are also done with the rescoping, then they will come and do the work, so the assurance is there to fund the project, they have expressed readiness to take up the project provided it meets their criteria,” Mr Yankson said.
He said the government was committed to finding resources to complete the rehabilitation works and urged the beneficiary communities to support the contractor to ensure quality work.
Dr Benedict Bonaventure Aligebam, the Managing Director, Irrigation Company of Upper Regions (ICOUR), noted that the Vea dam project should have been rehabilitated under the Ghana Commercial Agriculture Project at the same time as the Tono Irrigation dam, but it run out of funds.
He said the deplorable nature of the facility had brought untold hardships to the farmers as it was currently serving less than 400 farmers.
The Vea Water Supply Dam and Irrigation Scheme was established between 1965 and 1980 as part of efforts to promote dry season agriculture activities among peasant farmers and had the potential to irrigate about 1,300 hectares of farmlands, but only 800 hectares of farmlands were developed.
It supplied water for irrigation to more than 4,000 farmers in nine major communities in both the Bongo district and Bolgatanga Municipality.
Due to lack of maintenance and major rehabilitation since its construction, all the canals and laterals were damaged, making it difficult for water to be carried to the farms and throwing farmers out of business.
The multipurpose dam also supplies fresh water to the Ghana Water Company Limited in the region.