Re-thinking water storage for climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa


socio-political assessment, small dam, large dam, wells, ponds, river diversion, soil and water conservation


Ghana, Ethiopia


The research project aims at increasing resilience of the rural poor who are vulnerable to climate change related risks in sub-Saharan Africa, through better water storage mechanisms, improved investment strategies and institutional support. It examined the need for various storage options, their technical and economic effectiveness, and social-economic suitability in various physiographic and sociopolitical conditions, their distributional outcomes and impact on local livelihoods, environmental consequences, adoption potential and resilience under different climate change scenarios. The case studies were carried out in three watersheds each of the Volta River basin in Ghana and the Blue Nile River basin in Ethiopia, as these two countries are predicted to be affected differently by climate change.


  • ethnographic field work (ZEF)
  • socio-economic surveys (IWMI, ISSER)
  • development of score-based evaluation metrics to support decision-makers in Ghana and Ethiopia

Main Cooperation Partners

  • International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
  • EEA -Ethiopian Economic Association / Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
  • Arba Minch University / Institute of Water Technology in Arba Minch (Ethiopia)
  • Water Research Institute in Accra (Ghana)
  • Institute for Statistical Economic and Social Research of the University of Ghana
  • Volta Basin Authority in Burkina Faso
  • Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) (Germany)

Main Funding Partners

German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Further information

Poster and conference papers:

  • Eguavoen, I. and C. Abwoyo 2011. Certificates and contestation. Land tenure security of female farmers in the Blue Nile Basin, Ethiopia. Poster and conference paper, American Anthropological Association, Montreal.
  • Eguavoen, I. and A. Leidreiter. 2010. Diskurse um Klimawandel und Anpassungsstrategien am Blauen Nil in Äthiopien. Präsentation auf der VAD Tagung in Mainz. » Download
  • Laube, W. 2011. Changing Environments, Challenging Markets: Pitfalls of local adaptation to environmental change in Northern Ghana. Conference paper, ICARUS II in Michigan.
  • Laube, W. 2011. Local Institutions and Adaptive Capacity: Evidence from Northern Ghana. Conference paper, ICARUS II in Michigan.
  • McCartney, M. and I. Eguavoen. 2010. Rethinking water storage for agricultural adaptation to climate change in Sub-Sahara Africa. Presentation at Tropentag in Zürich. » Download
  • Xenarios, S., I. Eguavoen and M. Mc Cartney 2011. A comparative socio-economic analysis of water storage schemes in Sub-Sahara Africa. Conference paper, Comparative Water Studies Workshop, Bonn.

Master thesis:

  • Abwoyo, C. 2011. Access to land and water in Guder Indris irrigation Scheme; Oromia Region-Ethiopia. MA thesis, CEA, University of Cologne.
  • Adol, B.O. 2011. Access, aquisition and usage of shallow wells and ponds in Kuhar michael Kebele, Abay River basin, Ethiopia. MA thesis, CEA, University of Cologne.
  • Baumgärtner, U. 2011. Access to land and water in Vea irrigation scheme, Northern Ghana. Diploma thesis, University of Bonn.
  • Billa, S.S. 2011. Gender aspects in the use of land and water resoruces (The case of Shina community in Ethiopia). MA thesis, CEA, University of Cologne.
  • Leidreiter, A. 2010. Community participation in common Natural Resource Management in the Lake Tana watershed, Ethiopia. MA thesis, Universiteit van Amsterdam. » Download
  • Marx, S. 2011. The political ecology of irrigation management in Koga, the Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. MA thesis, University of Cologne. » Download


Eguavoen, I. and M. McCartney. 2013. Water storage:
A contribution to climate change adaptation in Africa. Rural 21 47(1), 38-41.

Eguavoen, I. and W. Tesfai. 2012. Social impact and impoverishment risks in the Koga irrigation scheme, Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. Afrika Focus 25(1), 39-60.
» Download

Eguavoen, I., Derib, S.D., Deneke, T.T., McCartney, M., Adol, B.O. and S.S. Billa. 2012. Digging, damming or diverting? Small-scale irrigation in the Blue Nile basin, Ethiopia. Water Alternatives 5(3), 687-699.
» Download

Eguavoen, I. and F. zur Heide. 2012. Klimawandel und Anpassungsforschung in Äthiopien. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 137(1), 97-118. Eguavoen, I. 2011. Pro-active farmers and supportive municipalities in Ethiopian dam projects. ZEF Policy Brief No. 9, Bonn.
» Download

Eguavoen, I., W. Tesfai and S. Marx. 2011. Social impact of dam building projects in Ethiopia. ZEF News 3
» Download

Johnston, R. and M. McCartney. 2010. Inventory of Water Storage Types in the Blue Nile and Volta River basins. IWMI Working Paper 140, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
» Download

McCartney, M. et al. 2012. The water resource implications of changing climate in the Volta basin. IWMI Research Report 146. Columbo. Sri Lanka.
» Download

Duration of the Project

April 2008 - December 2011


Irit Eguavoen

Dr. Irit Eguavoen