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The Niger, a lifeline


In Bamako, Mali on 27 March, a new book, The Niger, a lifeline, was presented by the Netherlands Ambassador Harry Bukema to Hamed Diane Semega, the Mali Minister for Mines, Energy and Water. The book, written by Wetlands International and partners is a crucial product on measuring the impacts of various dams in economic values. This enables decisions as net costs or benefits are visible.

By combining information on hydrology, ecology, fisheries, and agriculture, the study shows that building new dams is not an efficient way to increase economic growth and reduce poverty in the region. In fact, such efforts are counter-effective. Instead development efforts should improve the efficiency of the existing infrastructure as well as economic activities in the Inner Niger Delta itself. This approach will also provide greater certainty for the essential eco-regional network functioning of the Delta.

The presentation marked the completion of a four year collaborative “Partners for Water” project between Netherlands and Malian partners: “The relation between water management in the Upper Niger River and food security in the Inner Niger Delta, Mali”.

The presentation also marked the opening of a two day Conference, organised by Wetlands International, to share the results and conclusions amongst the many interested Malian partners, seeking feedback and agreement on how the project outcomes should be used to improve decision support for water management in the Upper Niger River.

The project partners in Netherlands were: the Institute for Water Management and Waste Water Treatment (RIZA) working with Altenburg & Wymenga, and the Institute for Environmental Studies, Free University of Amsterdam. In Mali, Bakary Kone of Wetlands International coordinated work with seven key partners: Ministère de l’Equipement, de l’Amégement du Territoire, de l’Environnement et de l’Urbanisme; Direction National de la Conservation de la Nature; Operation Pêche Mopti; Operation Riz Mopti; Operation Riz Segou; Office du Niger. An economic analysis has been conducted to determine the role of dams in the economy of the Inner Niger Delta and the Upper Niger region.


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