14 June 2007
Our third visit to the Volta Region.
We visited the Akosombo Dam, creator of the largest man-made lake in all the world. This dam was constructed in a brief three years by Italian engineers. The Lake is formed from the Black, White, and Red Volta Rivers coming from Togo, Benin, and Cote d’Ivoire. Volta in the local language means ‘rapids,’ now there is just a giant dam. The dam was built to be used for electricity and to create a source for fishing. The dam was huge and presented a great mark on the landscape of Ghana’s lush forests near the Volta Region. The dam provides all the power for Ghana, but currently there is an energy crisis. We have experienced this crisis with frequent black outs and power outages al across Ghana. We discovered why this is happening by viewing the extremely low water levels for the operation of the dam. Our guide told us that they are waiting for the rainy season to get into full swing to fill the Lake Volta and increase the power.
No pictures were allowed of the operational side of the dam, but here they are. After learning all about the dealings and history of the dam and how it works we walked back across the bridgeway and I noticed that there were less power lines heading to the north of Ghana and a great number headed to the Accra city center and southern Ghana. This seemed to be an all too common theme and yet again more evidence of the disparitites between North and South in Ghana. Kyle noted correctly that this was a great scar of development. The dam stopped up the rivers that now create the Lake Volta which covers one fourth of the country. It harnesses the water for electricity and development. It sits high and heavy on the once beautiful landscape on Ghana and screams of a continued practice of harmful ‘development.’
Seeing Lake Volta for the first time reminded me of an article that our professor showed to us about child labour in the fishing industry on lake Volta. The article was from the New York Times and followed the stories of families that could not eat and sold their children into labour for money with the promise of seeing their child once a year and being sent more money. Those promises rarely hold up and often the children are beaten, overworked, and never return home. The article covered the story of a young boy who worked on Lake Volta, fishing in the potentially dangerous waters with little sleep or rest, and a lot of work. Child labour is not beyond the ‘most developed’ country in Africa. It happens here, in the very eyes of development.
We headed over to the Volta Lake Hotel to have lunch. The hotel was a great Western hub catering to Obrunis (this is the correct spelling) and providing one of the most delicious meals yet. I forgot to take a picture before the meal, but here is the after picture of my ravaged plate. I was quite hungry by this time and the fillet of perch with a cocktail fruit drink and fresh fruit hit the spot.
Our bus driver was very tired this day since the day before the bus needed repair and there was trouble finding the part, he had been up since 5 am that day. He took a little nap.
Index of blog post series on Ghana.