A sustainable management plan for Lake Bosumtwi in Ghana

Situated within an ancient meteorite impact crater, Lake Bosumtwi is the only natural lake in Ghana. It is located south-east of Kumasi, the second largest city of the country, in the Ashanti region. The lake is an important source of livelihood for surrounding communities, who rely on it for fish catch as a source of income and protein.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment of Spain has been funding a project to establish a sustainable management plan for the entire Lake Bosumtwi basin area. The project aims to raise awareness among the local population and involve all stakeholders in the process. The ultimate goal is to support the national authorities of Ghana in the submission of a nomination proposal to UNESCO for the creation of a Lake Bosumtwi Biosphere Reserve. The project was initiated in February 2011 with a total budget of USD 1.48 million. A tripartite agreement was signed between UNESCO; the Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing of the Republic of Ghana; and Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Asantehene, the Custodian of Lake Bosumtwi.

The project is being implemented with the support of a Steering Committee to ensure the participation of all stakeholders. This Steering Committee is composed of members from the Government of Ghana (Ministry of Water Resources Works and Housing), local authorities (Manhyia Palace), local communities, universities and research centres, the MAB National Committee of Ghana and UNESCO Accra Office. Six partners were selected and endorsed by the Steering Committee following a selection process: Rocha Ghana; Friends of the Earth – Ghana; CSIR-Forest Research Institute of Ghana, Intelligence Nature International; the CSIR-Water Research Institute, Accra; and the Ghana MAB National Committee.

During the evaluation meeting, and to highlight the cultural value of the site, a traditional durbar ceremonial meeting with the chief leaders of the local communities, and a meeting with the traditional king of the Ashanti region, were organized to inform and obtain the agreement of local cultural and custodial authorities. The participants of the meeting included: the Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing; the Chairperson of the MAB National Committee; a representative of the Spanish embassy; representatives from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment; and the Head of UNESCO Accra Office. Local communities presented several field projects and concrete activities and achievements, to emphasize their commitment.

A final draft nomination proposal for a Biosphere Reserve is currently being shared with all stakeholders prior to presentation to the MAB Secretariat at UNESCO. The project forms part of the Ghana United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) workplan and activities and achievements resulting from project implementation have been included in the UNDAF reporting process. Nomination of the Bosumtwi area for a biosphere reserve will, therefore, constitute an important outcome of the Sustainable Environment and Human Settlement Outcome Group of UNDAF Ghana.