This paper examines water management policies and institutions in the Ghanaian and Burkinabe portions of the Volta basin of West Africa. The paper begins with a brief historical overview of political, cultural and environmental developments in the basin since the late 19th century. Customary approaches to water management in the Volta are described next, followed by colonial and post-colonial water management developments in Ghana and Burkina Faso. The interplay between customary and national water management institutions in the watershed is then analysed so as to understand how conditions changed as a result of national-level developments. The paper also examines transboundary developments in the Volta basin, and concludes with a discussion of some of the strengths and weaknesses of the different management approaches.

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