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 formal and informal water management institutions in the watershed is then analyzed so as to understand how conditions changed due to national-level developments. Finally, the paper examines transboundary actors and developments in the Volta basin.