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Agricultural growth, although desirable, does inevitably place pressure on the environment. In various part of the world agriculture does even account up to 70% of the water withdrawals and 30% of greenhouse gas emissions (including 16% from deforestation).The development of the Sisili–Kulpawn irrigation project will also be accompanied by several environmental risks and is therefore classified (under the Environmental Protection Agency Act 490 and the Environmental Regulations Assessment, 1999) as an Environmentally Sensitive Project which will require a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to project implementation. From a purely environmental viewpoint, the proposed flagship project (400 ha) is likely to have a moderate impact on the natural environment provided the drainage is managed properly.
The establishment of a the proposed Kulpawn dam with a potential scale -up to 20.000 ha under irrigation (Sisili–Kulpawn XXL project) is a much larger project and there are certain risks associated with large water infrastructure projects (dams
breaking, exceptional releases of water, environmental flows etc.). This will also require other organizations (such as the WRC, the Dam dialogue platform and the Volta Basin Authority) in the ECOWAS area to get involved.
Although the implications are yet difficult to predict, and while the dam may open new ecological niches, the complexity of such changes suggest that the issue of upstream and downstream ecological flows will be critical and should be studied
in detail. Any design for the dam will need to take into consideration the specific recommendations that emanate from the preceding studies and EIA.
Other key environmental aspects that will be considered are the protection of natural resources and ecosystem services, the impacts on air quality related to vegetation clearing and air borne dust emissions, the potential for surface and groundwater contamination by fertilizers and pesticides. Each of the above elements will also be addressed in detail in the Project Environmental Impact Assessment planned for 2013 (flagship project ) and 2014 (XXL project)