Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Niger River Ecological Problems

The Niger River is a source of water and food for five African nations: Guinea, Mali, Niger, Benin, and Nigeria. Another five African nations have land that is part of the Niger Basin, totalling 2.3 million km2 and including the area drained by one very large tributary, the Benue River. While the Niger's headwaters are in Guinea not far from the Atlantic Coast, the headwaters of the Benue River are east of Nigeria in Chad.

With a total length of about 4100 km, the Niger is the third-longest river in Africa, but it follows an arcuate path to reach the Atlantic Ocean a mere 1,700 kilometers from it’s source. Deforestation and farming of fragile soils, particularly in the upper and middle river reaches, are resulting in siltation that is changing the river's hydrology and drastically reducing discharge in the lower reaches. Although international cooperation is not perfect, several nations and the nation of Niger in particular do have strong programs aimed at solving the ecological problems.

Drawing upon more than $2 million from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Niger's "Programme to Protect the Banks of the Niger" focuses on building sand banks that will retain rain water and prevent it from carrying solid matter towards the river bed. Mahaman Laminou Attaou, national director for the environment in Niger's Ministry of Water Affairs, Environment and the Fight Against Desertification, reports that more than 6,000 of the 100,000 hectares of land that need to be restored have been dealt with over the past four years. Attaou estimates that a further 7,500 hectares will be restored this year.


I tip my hat to Brian of
Black Star Journal for the initial link to a story on ecological problems faced by the Niger River.


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