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Climate change and dams: ingredients for a water crisis in Mali?


Nagoya, Japan (CBD) - The Niger River is a lifeline for the Sahelian countries of Mali and Niger. Depending on the rainwater in Tropical West African Country of Guinea, the river fills the large Inner Niger Delta; a seasonal flooded area for one million people and millions of migratory waterbirds. A combination of upstream dams and expected climate change impacts may mean a disaster for these biodiversity and human values.

Today, the report “Will the Inner Niger Delta shrivel up due to climate change and water use upstream?“ is presented in a CBD side event of Wetlands International, the NGO that commissioned the study. The report shows how this large wetland area is already under threat due to water consumption upstream.

Dams for hydropower and irrigation schemes already cause a reduction in the size of the seasonal flooded area. This is already impacting the life of one million herdsmen, fishermen and farmers that depend on the seasonally flooded areas.

Climate change: worsen situation

Looking at possible impacts due to climate change in the future, this situation may worsen a lot. In dry years with less rainfall and more evaporation due to higher temperatures, the dam lakes still need to be filled. This will lead to the use of a disproportional part of the water for the upstream water infrastructures. As a result, the seasonally flooded area will become very small. In this way, dams are making drought events more extreme.

More examples

The Inner Niger Delta is unfortunately not a standalone example. Similar stress is seen on other wetlands in the Sahelian zone, with Lake Chad as a well known example.

Presentation of the report:

Convention on Biological Diversity, Nagoya, Japan (CBD COP 10)

Side event: "Wetlands, Water, Livelihoods and Biodiversity Linkages in a Global Water Crisis"

20 October 18.15. Room 136 - Bldg 1 - 3rd Floor

Presentation by Papa Mawade Wade, Wetlands International Africa

For more information:

Fatim Sow

Communication and Media Coordinator

Wetlands International Africa


Alex Kaat 

Global Communications Manager

Wetlands International


Tel. +31 (0) 640501917

More resources:

Impact of Dams on the People in Mali (booklet)

Better use of the water of the Inner Niger Delta in a Changing Climate (video)

The Niger, A Lifeline (book)

Biodiversity loss and the global water crisis - A fact book (booklet)

Our work in the Inner Niger Delta (page on our site)

Press contact

Press can contact:

Ms. Ytha Kempkes
Communications and Advocacy Manager
Tel. +31 (0)318 660933
Email: ytha.kempkes@wetlands.org

Press kit

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