Bringing rivers back to life – a blog from Ghana

Vicki Guthrie is the Fundraising Manager for Corporate and High Value Donors at TREE AID.                                                                   
This was my first trip to Ghana, indeed to any developing country, and the first time I had set foot in Africa.

Three weeks into my new job as Fundraising Manager at TREE AID, I was taking a representative from one of our corporate partners, RPS, to see a project which they are funding in Bongo district in northern Ghana. TREE AID have been working with RPS since 2006, and recently we’ve been using their engineering know-how to make our project even more impactful.

We first visited Bo-Naaba, the Bongo district’s Paramount Chief, to let him know about our plans. He told us of childhood memories when rivers had water in them year-round, and when wildlife was plentiful.


Bo-Naaba talks about his childhood when the rivers were full year-round

Tree roots used to support the riverbanks, creating strong root-and-earth walls which would hold the seasonal rains. Today the trees have gone, the walls have crumbled, and so the rivers run dry and can no longer support life.  TREE AID is working with corporate partners from RPS to address this situation, by constructing small-scale weirs and replanting riverbanks. We travelled to sites where weirs have already been built and trees replanted, and then to the site which is yet to have work done, and the difference between the two was hard to miss.


Looking upstream - I was told this is a riverbed, but it looked more like a road to me!

Looking upstream – I was told this is a riverbed, but it looked more like a road to me!

In the Boko, Ayopea and Amanga communities three basic but reliable weirs had been built– a result of combined effort by TREE AID, engineering experience from RPS, and local knowledge from Bongo community groups and regional craftspeople.


The 38 degree heat meant these cows were staying close to water

On the banks of reservoirs behind the weirs, fruiting trees have been planted, which in coming years will be a vital source of income and livelihood for local residents. Livestock clearly enjoyed the available water, and the wildlife of Bo-Naaba’s childhood was returning. When we visited the community that is yet to have a weir built, we saw a dry and dusty riverbed. Despite the annual rainy season having ended a few weeks prior, the barren earth looked like it hadn’t seen rain for years. There is more for TREE AID and RPS to do, and in 2016 we’ll be building the fourth weir and transforming lives.

On the last day Bo-Naaba hosted a celebration of what the project had so far achieved. At each location we visited, where we talked with everyone from government representatives to local community groups, the message was the same: “We should have been doing this ourselves, but we didn’t have the resources”.

If your company would like to partner with TREE AID please get in contact with Vicki Guthrie on


2 Responses to Bringing rivers back to life – a blog from Ghana

  1. Katherine putnam March 22, 2016 at 10:15 pm #

    Great work.

  2. Elizabeth March 23, 2016 at 10:14 am #

    Thanks Katherine!

    Elizabeth (TREE AID)

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