Why an Observatory?
Water is essential to life. This applies in particular to the communities living in the Sahel and Sudan zone in West Africa, where water resources are scarce. Water is the key driver of the socio-economic development, the production of natural resources (food) and vital to ecosystems and biodiversity. To balance the socio-economic development and management of water resources as well as the sustainability of vital ecosystems, a process of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is promoted in Mali and Guinea.
Along with the large variation in rainfall the availability of water resources in the Upper Niger Basin varies within and between years. This requires an accurate management of water resources based on relevant data. Long term monitoring of rainfall, river discharge and the production of natural resources is fundamental to IWRM. The Observatory brings together this relevant information collected in Mali and Guinea.
The Observatory’s long term goal is to enable governments, decentralized institutions, NGO’s and (local) communities to make more informed decisions on the management of the Upper Niger River and the Inner Niger Delta through access to knowledge and data about the water management, environment and natural resources. The overall objectives of this Observatory are:
- Provide an up-to-date information and communication tool on IWRM in the Upper Niger Basin and Inner Niger Delta;
- Assemble relevant data and information on IWRM in the Upper Niger Basin and Inner Niger Delta;
- Enable technical administrations, policy makers, civil society and local stakeholders to monitor the status of the two sub-basins and the implementation of policies for the strategic and sustainable development of the two sub-basins;
- Mobilize knowledge and data which allows the systematic monitoring of ecological and socio-economic indicators.
Context and justification
The Observatory is one of the projects of the "Projet d’Appui à la Sécurisation des Moyens d’Existence et Biodiversité dans un climat changeant", initiated by Wetlands International Mali and financed by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Mali, , put under the umbrella project ‘BAM-GIRE’ (2016-2019). The project aims to ensure "a living Niger River Basin in which livelihoods and biodiversity are secure in a changing environment". Its specific objective is that "the actions of the Government, decentralized institutions and local communities maintain the flood regime and the natural resources of the Upper Niger and the Inner Niger Delta so that livelihoods, biodiversity and the economy can adapt to a changing environment".
The establishment of an Observatory for the Upper Niger Basin and the Inner Niger Delta will strengthen the monitoring capacity of the institutions concerned, prioritize and coordinate data collection and create a single online platform to provide information to decision makers at the regional, national and local levels. The Observatory will also be an instrument for technical administrations, decision makers, civil society and local stakeholders to monitor the implementation of policies for the strategic and sustainable development of the two sub-basins.