The Source, Annual Review 2020

STORY HIGHLIGHTS The Inner Niger Delta’s natural flooding and related fish and agricultural production will decline if upstream plans for the Fomi hydropower dam in Guinea and Mali’s irrigation expansion become a reality. The new hydrological, ecological and social analysis concludes that the planned dam and irrigation works would reduce the production of rice by 11%, fish catches by 20%, and the elephant grass by 7%. This would affect fish markets across the region, cause livestock prices to surge and impact nomadic herders from Mauritania to Chad, and could stimulate a major outflow of migrants.


By Fred Pearce

Is West Africa’s biggest interior wetland, the Inner Niger Delta on the fringes of the Sahara Desert in Mali, on the brink of drying up? It seemed a ludicrous suggestion as intense summer rains coursed down the Rive Niger in October 2020, raising water levels in the delta to heights unseen for half a century. But the same month a series of academic studies commissioned by Wetlands International confirmed our fears that that is precisely the fate that awaits this desert jewel, if neighbouring Guinea goes ahead with the long-promised hydroelectric dam in the river’s headwaters.

Mopti, Mali’s central region, which borders the Niger River.



Wetlands International Annual Review 2020

Wetlands International Annual Review 2020

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