IWRM in the Upper Niger Basin
Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is a process that promotes the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources to improve economic and social well-being in a fair manner, without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems and the environment. IWRM is increasingly applied worldwide for the policies and management of water resources (source: https://www.gwp.org/).
The basis of IWRM is that the use and different applications of scarce water resources are interdependent. High demands on irrigation mean less fresh water for ecosystems. Polluted and industrial wastewater pollutes rivers and threatens ecosystems; if water has to be left in a river system to protect fisheries and ecosystems, less can be diverted to grow crops. There are many more examples of how water use is interdependent. Especially in the Sahel, where water is a scarce and variable resource, this is felt by all sectors and users. Wasting water is no option. A sustainable distribution and a proper access to water resources in the Sahel is of high priority.
The importance of IWRM in the Upper Niger Basin and the Inner Niger Delta has long been recognised by Mali and Guinea, and several programmes and projects have been carried out in the past decades to support the GIRE process. Both Mali and Guinea face a significant lack of human and financial resources to implement IWRM in the basin, but at the same time progress has been made with the development of instruments to support the IWRM process.
Both countries work on a National Water Policy, as framework for IWRM. In Guinea the National Water Policy is under preparation as well as the development action plan (PAGIRE). In Mali the National Water Plan has been updated recently (see below).
Vision and objectives of the National Water Plan – Mali
In 2019, Mali updated its National Water Policy adopted in 2006 and its Water Code adopted in 2002. This update is justified by the challenges the water sector is facing:
- the physical characteristics of the country (see Topography of the basins and West African Context), in connection with the continuous growth of the demand for water in quantity and quality due to the country's development;
- knowledge and monitoring of water resources, with, on the one hand, insufficient human resources to ensure optimum monitoring of water resources, and, on the other hand, insufficient financial resources to adequately cover the costs related to the monitoring of these water resources;
- the financing of the water sub-sector, whose problem arises in terms of significant mobilization of own resources at the national level, in order to reduce the over-dependence of the water sub-sector on external financing;
- climate change, whose manifestations through the adverse effects of extreme climatic phenomena constitute a great handicap for the development of the country; and (v) the governance of the water sub-sector.
The vision of the updated National Water Policy of Mali is: by 2030, Mali's water resources are known and effectively managed, to achieve universal access to water supply services and sustainable management of water resources in order to contribute to the sustainable development of the country.
The general objective of the National Water Policy is to contribute to the sustainable development of the country, by providing appropriate solutions to water-related problems, taking into account the effects of climate change, and with a view to sustainable management of water resources. The specific objectives are:
- To sustainably meet the water needs, in quantity and quality, of a growing population and a developing economy, in an environment increasingly affected by human activities and climate change.
- To develop and implement the institutional architecture of the country's new water resources management framework, with a view to ensuring the sustainable management of water resources by 2030.
- To promote the improvement of the efficiency of drinking water networks, particularly irrigation networks of hydro-agricultural developments for a better economic development of water resources, and thus contribute more to the achievement of food security.
- Improve the governance of the water sub-sector, in particular through : (i) steering and coordination of the water sub-sector; (ii) human resource development; (iii) sustainable financing of the water sub-sector; (iv) promotion of mutual accountability of actors at national and international level; and (v) promotion of regional cooperation in transboundary water management.
In order to facilitate the implementation of the national water policy, four national programmes have been annexed, amongst which is the National Programme for Integrated Water Resources Management. This National Water Policy is accompanied by a Water Development and Management Master Plan (SDAGE) which is a document of orientation and legal scope, which sets for each river basin/aquifer the fundamental orientations for sustainable water resource management in the general interest and in compliance with the principles laid down by the law on water regime. It is binding on the decisions of decentralized local authorities, public establishments or other users as regards water programmes.
Mali's National Program for Integrated Water Resources Management (PNGIRE)
The vision of IWRM by 2030 proposed in PNGIRE is: "IWRM, a cross-sectoral, participatory management framework, by coherent hydraulic space, to guarantee water for all, without conflicts, sustainable and thus support the growth and well-being of the population".
The PNGIRE is based on four specific objectives which are:
- Setting up of an institutional framework adapted to IWRM.
- The functionality of an IWRM financial contribution (IWRM-CF) based on the user-pays and polluter-pays principles, and mobilized for the benefit of the water sector.
- The functionality of a Water Police, with two phases: first the sensitization/information of the populations and then the control/repression.
- Capacity building, with three components: 1) long-term diploma training programme, 2) further development of technical instruments for the management of water, its uses and risks, 3) Strengthening of technical services.
PNGIRE 2019-2030 is divided into three Operational Plans of four years each. The coordination of PNGIRE is entrusted to the Direction Nationale de l'Hydraulique through its IWRM unit. Wetlands International will contribute to the implementation of PNGIRE through the development of tools (Observatory and OPIDIN), capacity building and knowledge mobilization.