Inner Niger Delta, Mali

Case study leader: Wetlands International (WI)

Ecoregions covered: Inner Niger Delta flooded savanna, and partially the Sahelian Acacia Savanna and West Sudanian Savanna

Site description: The Inner Niger Delta (IND) is a large inland flood plain (30 000 km²) and one of the four major hydrologically distinct components of the Niger Basin. It has international importance for biodiversity but it is also crucial for the livelihood support of one million people that depend on the Delta’s resources and ecosystem. Regionally the low level of development and advanced state of degradation of natural resources (due to climatic disturbances, human pressure and upstream development), exposes the Delta’s population to severe food insecurity. Furthermore the IND’s position downstream the Upper Niger makes it subject to developments in the upstream basin; therefore the status of the IND is integrally linked to the effects of water resource management, agriculture and industry

Pressures: As the population is expanding fast, the various users increasingly compete for the access to land, water, wood and other resources. The drought of the seventies and eighties worsened the situation. The increasing use of water upstream for irrigation, drinking water and sanitation is decreasing the water supply to the delta and also the flooding level and flooded area are decreasing. The construction of a new dam in Fomi in Guinea will reduce the floods but will increase the water level in the dry season due to water released by the dams. As a result of the changing hydrological conditions, fish production and catch is decreasing, vegetation cover is deteriorating and biological species are disappearing. Rice farmers tend to encroach on pastures, pastoral migration routes and resting areas. Moreover, new groups of herders are starting to use the delta pastures against payment to traditional authorities, at the expense of traditional users. Consequently, violent conflicts tend to increase.

Stakeholders: The IND is populated by almost one million herders, fishermen and crop farmers. Decentralisation is underway with mayors now elected at ‘Circle’ level (equivalent to departments or counties). At present, the assembly of the 5th region appears the central platform where problems of IND are discussed. However, this platform does not fit within the traditional pastoral or hydrologic divisions and it transfers the power to the more numerous groups, conflicting with the traditional structure. Conflicts tend to be handled at first by the local traditional chief, if unsolved, to the municipality and in some cases to the legal judicial powers. AFROMAISON will interact with formal and informal institutions and stakeholder groups at various levels. Key stakeholder in the project are the National and regional Directions of Fishery department, the National Direction of Hydrology and Local or regional sub-basin committees.

Case study focus: AFROMAISON will contribute to the upscaling, testing and publication of the Flood Prediction Tool for the IND (OPIDIN), which has been developed to assist resource users to plan and optimise their economic activities sustainably and in tune with the rainfall and flooding. Additionally, a will study will be carried out on the restoration of natural fish passages (channels) to allow lateral fish migration in the breeding period.

Previous projects: WETwin, OPIDIN, ROSELT, Niger: A Lifeline, Master Development Plan of the Inner Niger Delta, the National Action plan for IWRM (NAPIWRM), projects from IFAD/GEF and IUCN

Country or case-study specific expertise of partners: WI, 2iE, CIRAD G-EAU, SORESMA, UNESCO-IHE, PIK, A&W

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