Actueel weer
Zondag 30 september
Do 1 okt 33°regenachtig
Za 2 okt 33°regenachtig
Zo 3 okt 33°regenachtig
Actuele waterstand
Zondag 30 september
WeersvoorspellingPeak flow level (cm)
Minimum 660
Mean 663
Maximum 666
Table of contents
Indicators of IWRM
Back to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM)

Indicators of IWRM

Monitoring is necessary to measure the results of water management. Indicators can help to measure and monitor the results of water management, and adjust policy and management accordingly.

Indicators of IWRM

Water management in Mali and Guinea covers an immense area (Topography of the basins). However, water management in the source area in Guinea has a direct influence on the availability of water in the Inner Niger Delta, 4000 km away. A good knowledge of these hydrological relations and the related socio-economic and ecological consequences is indispensable for water management. Monitoring is necessary to measure the results of water management. The monitoring focuses on parameters and aspects that tell whether IWRM works, the so-called indicators.

Indicators can help to measure and monitor the results of water management, and adjust policy and management accordingly. For example, water levels are an indicator of the river's discharge, and the number of breeding birds or the presence of hippos can be used as an indicator of biodiversity or ecosystem health. The use of indicators is also a pragmatic approach to enable long-term monitoring. The choice of indicators requires a thorough knowledge of the hydrological regime and ecosystems, as well as the impact on socio-economic development (impact chain).


Which indicators? 

In order to define measurable indicators that are sensitive and reliable enough to function as sensors for IWRM, it is necessary to link them to the objectives for IWRM. The main and general objectives of water policy in Mali and Guinea are to ensure sustainable water management, including food security at the national level, support of socio-economic development and maintaining the ecological integrity of the Inner Niger Delta’s ecosystem.

The indicators have been chosen on the basis of stakeholder meetings combined with sound information on the hydrological regime, socio-economic development and the impact chain of hydrological interventions on natural resources and ecosystems. This information is summarised in the themes on this website.

The table below shows the selected indicators. For some indicators detailed information is available over the years, for others the information is scarce and incomplete. Most information is available for the Inner Niger Delta, as this is the most vulnerable economy and ecosystem, depending on the remaining water at the end of the system’s impact chain.

Weather and Climate

Water availability depends on rainfall, with in the Sahel a high seasonal, annual and spatial variation. Climate change will influence the rainfall patterns, growing season and crop yields.


The water discharge in the Niger and its tributaries resulting from the water management (hydrological regime and infrastructure) are monitored for a long time through water levels at various parts of the basins. Flooding of the Inner Delta is measured via water levels and forecasted through a flooding model (OPIDIN). Data on groundwater and water quality are hardly available, and therefore not included.


The socio-economy represents many aspects which can be summarised by food security, socio-economic development, livelihoods and safety. In particular food production relies on water availability (rainfall, irrigation, flooding). For the food production there are indicators with annual information (Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries). This accounts also for energy production.
For aspects which indicate livelihoods and the wellbeing of communities in the basins information is scarce and/or only available on a global level (national level, no annual basis): poverty index, access to drinking water, prevalence of waterborne diseases, number of conflicts related to exploitation of natural resources and the damage related to natural disasters.

Ecosystems and Biodiversity

The integrity of the ecosystems in the basins, in particular the floodplain of the Inner Niger Delta, is indicated by key habitats and vulnerable species. Key habitats in the Inner Niger Delta are bourgou fields and flood forests (ecological hotspots). Amongst others, vulnerable species include waterbirds and hippo’s.

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Monitoring of indicators

As you can see on the theme pages (weather and climate, hydrology, socio-economy, ecosystems and biodiversity) this website aggregates existing and relevant monitoring data for several aspects, gathered by institutes from Mali and Guinea. For some aspects these data have been gathered already for a long period. Systematic long-term monitoring requires a strong institutional organisation, dedication and a thorough expertise and knowledge. In this context, the long-term datasets on rainfall, water levels and river discharge in the Upper Niger Basin and Inner Niger Delta in Guinea and Mali, collected by DNH, provide a wealth of information.

In short, monitoring concerns the systematic and recurrent collection of information to:

  • show and evaluate relevant developments or trends,
  • measure to what extent objectives have been reached, and
  • signal in an early stage important changes in the system’s indicators.

At present there is no overarching monitoring program for IWRM in Mali and Guinea. There are, however, several relevant monitoring activities and historic datasets, which are highly relevant to the process of IWRM, and which are presented in the themes of this website. In this background information you can also find which institutes are involved and responsible for the monitoring.

Monitoring of relevant indicators is informative to the management, and by making this information accessible through the Observatory, this information also becomes available for the entire community interested in IWRM. Monitoring is not a goal in itself but a means to collect telling information on the processes and systems being followed.