The implementation of the Akosombo Hydro-electric Power Project (the Volta River Project) during the period 1961-1964 resulted in the formation of the Volta Lake. The project was executed by the Government of Ghana through the Volta River Authority (VRA) which was established in 1961 by an Act of Parliament, the Volta River Authority Act (Act 46) of 1962. The main purpose of the project was to generate, transmit and distribute cheap hydroelectric power throughout Ghana to facilitate the economic and social development of the country through the planned industrialization of the national economy. This huge national asset, well intended to give impetus to the economic takeoff of our national development aspirations soon after attainment of political independence, also unfortunately brought in its wake extensive environmental damage leading to perhaps one of the worst disasters for human habitation that has ever confronted the country.
The Volta Lake that was inevitably created as a result of the damming of the Volta River inundated 730 villages with a total population of 80,000 people. This situation required that the affected people be compelled to move from their original ancestral homes and areas of habitation, to other, mostly strange and hostile locations. These displaced people were relocated and resettled in fifty two (52) townships spread over four (4) regions of the country; namely Volta, Eastern, Brong-Ahafo and Northern Regions and covering seventeen (17) districts of the country, as shown on the map on page 3.
The original policy on resettlement, as promulgated in Act 46 of 1961, gave responsibility for that task to the then Ministry of Social Welfare but due to capacity and financial constraints during the period of project execution, VRA was forced to intervene, thus since 1961, has been responsible for matters concerning the resettlement of the affected people.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TRUST FUND
The forced relocations of the people whose lands had been inundated by the lake formation of the Volta River Project caused profound disruptions in the lives of the thousands of individuals affected. Over the forty (40) years of their existence, the resettlement townships have suffered degradation due to deprivation and life has been very difficult in those resettlement communities.
The most ironical situation was that until the year 1996, even electricity supplies for which people in the resettlement township paid the ultimate price of losing their entire livelihood and human dignity had been denied them. For over thirty (30) years, the resettlement townships have wallowed in darkness and abject poverty as the rest of the country took for granted the many economic and social benefits of cheap, reliable electricity, made possible by the sacrifices of the displaced people.
As a result difficulties ranging from environmental degradation through poor drainage and road networks to low income levels faced by the resettlement communities, numerous complaints were persistently directed at VRA by members of the resettled communities regarding their plight. Finally in 1995, the VRA, in collaboration with Government, represented by the then Ministry of Mines and Energy, decided to establish a special fund to cater for the needs of the resettlement townships. This fund, known as the VRA Resettlement Trust Fund, was established in 1996. Details of this collaboration is expressed and defined in a Trust Deed which, among others, requires VRA to provide the Trust Fund with an annual grant to be used for developmental projects for the 52 Resettlement Townships. This, to date is the main source of revenue for the Trust Fund. The Trust Deed however, gives the Managing Trustees the mandate to explore other sources of revenue for the Fund.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE FUND
The Board of Trustees
The Trust Fund is administered by a Board of Trustees which reports annually to the Minister of Energy. The Trust Deed which established the Fund stipulates the composition of the Board as follows:
- A Board Chairman appointed by the Government
- Ten (10) MPs from affected constituencies in the four Regions of Ghana
- Two (2) representatives from VRA
- Three (3) representatives from the Ministry of Energy
- Another Managing Trustee appointed by the Minister of Energy as required by the Trust Deed.
The Regional Co-ordinating Councils in the four affected regions of Ghana namely: Volta, Eastern, Northern and Brong Ahafo regions are the appointing authorities of the MPs to serve on the Board according to the following distribution pattern:
Regional Composition of Trustee MPs:
|No.||Region||No. of Resettlement Townships||No. of Trustee MPs|
The Secretariat of the Trust Fund, headed by the Executive Director is responsible for implementing all the decisions of the Managing Trustees and also working directly with the resettlement communities and other stakeholders.
Town Development Committees
At the local level, Town Development Committees have been established in all the 52 resettlement townships to perform liaison functions between the secretariat of the Trust Fund and the respective communities for the prioritization and effective execution of development projects within the Resettlement Communities.