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Bui Dam in the Black Volta River, Ghana

The recently Chinese-built Bui Dam was planned since the 1920s as part of the Volta River Project for producing electricity fby processing the country’s bauxite.


The Bui Dam is a 400-megawatt hydroelectric project built on the Black Volta river at the Bui Gorge, at the southern end of Bui National Park. The Bui hydro-electric dam had first been envisaged in 1925 and remained on the drawing board since the 1960s, when Ghana’s largest dam, the Akosombo Dam, was built further downstream on the Volta River. By 1978 planning for the Bui Dam was advanced with support from Australia and the World Bank. However, four military coups stalled the plans. At the time Ghana began to be plagued by energy rationing, which has persisted since then. This created goodwill among the population towards the construction of the plant. In 1992, the project was revived and a first feasibility study was conducted by the French firm Coyne et Bellier.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Bui Dam in the Black Volta River, Ghana
State or province:Northern/ Brong-Ahafo Region
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Water access rights and entitlements
Dams and water distribution conflicts
Establishment of reserves/national parks
Specific commodities:Electricity
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Bui Dam is a gravity roller-compacted concrete dam located at the Bui National Park in Ghana.

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Project area:44,000
Level of Investment:622,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:2,600 people relocated [1]
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:Sinohydro Corporation Limited (Sinohydro) from China
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Global warming
Potential: Floods (river, coastal, mudflow)
Other Environmental impactsLoss of a large part of Bui National Park, a protected savannah with pristine river forests, spectacular landscapes, and a diversity of species. The country’s largest hippopotamus population (Hippopotamus amphibius) could face extinction. The dam will be a source of greenhouse gases (4). (1).
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Other Health impactsRisk of schistosomiasis ( bilharzia).
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Land dispossession, Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Potential: Violations of human rights
Other socio-economic impacts2500 people displaced. Dowstream fishing has suffered through reduction in catch and unregulated water releases from the dam while farming has seen a reduction in farm sizes
2,500 people displaced. Fishing downstream has suffered.
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The dam has been built. Damage to displaced local people, and damage to wildlife.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Hausermann, H. (2018). “Ghana must Progress, but we are Really Suffering”: Bui Dam, Antipolitics Development, and the Livelihood Implications for Rural People. Society & Natural Resources, 31(6), 633-648.
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[5] Frauke Urban et al, Chinese Overseas Hydropower Dams and Social Sustainability: The Bui Dam in Ghana and the Kamchay Dam in Cambodia. 09 September 2015, Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies.
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PROJECTS. Stephan F. Miescher, University of California. , Santa Barbara & Dzodzi Tsikata, University of Ghana.
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The environmental and social governance of the Bui Dam project in Ghana, by P. Yankson, Alex B. Asiedu, Kwado Owusu. Chapter in Chinese Hydropower Development in Africa and Asia. Challenges and Opportunities for Sustainable Global Dam-Building Eds. and Urban, F, Chapter: 6, Publisher: Routledge, Editors: Siciliano G., Urban F.
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[3] Wikipedia page. Bui dam
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[1] International rivers. Bui Dam, Ghana
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[2] Water-technology. Bui Dam Hydroelectricity Project, Ghana
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Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Fact sheet on Bui Dam. EJOLT project.
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Last update18/08/2019
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