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Community resilience

  • Community resilience

Rivers and wetlands are critically important life-support systems running through the Sahelian drylands. They provide food, water supplies and fertile soils for tens of millions of people. The loss of wetlands results in increased water scarcity, hunger and instability. We seek to safeguard seasonal water flows that nourish the floodplains and local communities.

The wet season flood pulse across the Sahel inundates rivers, inland deltas and marshes that support people directly with water, fish and fertile land. In the dry season, wetlands have traditionally been an oasis of food and water for nomadic communities and livestock migrating from more arid regions.

The future of these lifelines is uncertain due to increasing competition for land and water in the face of a fast-growing population. Upstream water withdrawals and proposals for additional dams and large scale irrigation to provide food and energy across the region threaten to shut off downstream flows. This means lower hauls of fish, crop yields and less pasture for downstream communities. Water is becoming increasingly scarce in normal (non-drought) years and many inhabitants are threatened with chronic hunger.

To ensure the survival of downstream communities who depend on healthy wetlands, we develop knowledge and provide tools to improve water management in major river basins. We work with local partners to conserve and restore wetlands, and influence policy developments and investment decisions on the need to sustain wetland ecosystems.