The Source, our Annual Review 2019

Women selecting the day’s fish catch.

Fisher and his nets in the Inner Niger Delta, Mali

fish and cattle. Such projects have also restored some 500 hectares of valuable flooded forests and more than 2000 hectares of bourgou in the delta. “Despite the insecurity, we are still in action” says CEO Jane Madgwick. “Our aim is to nip in the bud conflicts over diminishing natural resources such as fisheries or access to bourgou before they escalate into ethnic disputes and turn violent.” During 2019, we helped municipalities in the delta or- ganise dialogues aimed at reconciliation between com- munities. In Djenné, the dialogues resolved disputes over damage to fields caused by migrating herds and introduced new regulations on herd movements. “Since the applica- tion of the regulation, our animals move freely and stay in the two communes without conflict,” says Amadou Cissé, vice-president of the Djenné coalition. But peace and security require adequate water, and that requires government action. In 2019, we helped equip staff at the inter-government Niger Basin Authority with data, models and other tools to help manage the river and allo- cate its water. In particular, we commissioned research into how demand for water upstream of the delta – for instance the long-planned Fomi hydroelectric dam in Guinea and Mali’s plans to expand the irrigation – can be met without further damaging the delta.

Until recently, the ethnically diverse delta was a peaceable region. Bozo fishers, Fulani herders and Bambara and Son - rhai farmers cooperated to share the wetland’s resources. Fishers ruled in the wet season; then farmers planted as the waters receded, and herders move in after the crops were harvested. Five years ago, this author had travelled the delta at will. One fisher told how “Bozo and Fulani have lived together here for centuries.” No longer. Since the Ogossagou massacre, law and order has broken down. There are many causes. But one is the growth of disputes over water and the natural resources it sustains. These disputes are exacerbated by water diver- sions upstream that are drying out the wetland. With partners, Wetlands International has been working for many decades with delta communities from different eth - nic groups. We have provided technical expertise, training and access to micro-credit to help them manage and share the delta’s natural wealth, in exchange for their time and effort in restoring wetland ecosystems. In Akka village, we helped villagers plant bourgou grasses (also known as hippo grasses) in lake shallows to nurture more fish and provide fodder for cattle. In Kakagnan, we encouraged women to band together to plant fruit trees and irrigated kitchen gardens. In Simina and Noga, our help allowed villagers to divert river water into ponds for

The African Sacred Ibis, native to the Inner Niger Delta, feeds wading in very shallow wetlands and in wet pastures with soft soil.



Wetlands Annual Review 2019

Wetlands Annual Review 2019

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