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Research for a healthy Inner Niger Delta, Mali

The Inner Niger Delta (IND) is one of the largest seasonal floodplain wetlands in the world, running 400 km along the Niger river from Mopti in central Mali to the famed city of Tombouctou (Timbuktu), on the edge of the Sahara Desert in the north. This inland delta of rivers and marshes supports nearly two million people directly with fish, pasture and fertile land for rice paddies and other crops It is also a wetland of international importance for the millions of birds that depend on it. It is threatened by poor water management and a changing climate. 


Action Description:

Bad infrastructure and a changing climate change

The flow of the Niger River into the Inner Niger Delta has decreased 50% since the 1980’s, due in part to man-made upstream dams and irrigation, while rainfall has decreased by 30% in the Upper Niger Basin since 1998. A warmer climate with longer and more frequent droughts is increasing the competition for natural resources in Northern Mali and contributing to conflict. 

Impact of water withdrawals on the Inner Niger Delta

We address the threats to the Niger Basin such as the construction of hydropower dams and upstream irrigation. We use the knowledge from our research to influence decisions and policies with impacts on the Inner Niger Delta at the local, national and entire Niger River Basin, which stretches from Guinea to Nigeria. 

Our research experience

Wetlands International has years of experience in Mali working with local communities and at the highest level of government. Results of our research include the publications ‘The Niger, A Lifeline’ and ‘Impact of Dams of the People of Mali' (a booklet extracting conclusions from the Niger, A Lifeline). This has provided a strong knowledge base to influence government policies and decisions affecting the Inner Niger Delta. Other key research documents include: