In the Niger Basin, Countries collaborate on hydropower, irrigation, and improve water resource Management.
World Bank, March 4, 2015, Washington.
Investments in hydropower plants, reservoirs, irrigation schemes, and navigation facilities can help reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity in the Niger Basin countries. The Niger Basin in Sub Saharan Africa is among the world’s most fragile regions. Countries in the Basin are seeking solutions to clean, renewable energy for electricity and other development needs. A project supported by the World Bank and the Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) program, aims to address development challenges for the Basin’s nine countries.
The Niger River is one of the few perennial sources of water in the arid and semi-arid lands of Africa’s Sahel region. For thousands of years, the river has supported communities of farmers, cattle grazers, and fishermen. Today, the Niger Basin is one of the most fragile developing regions of the world, by any measure. Seven of the basin’s 10 countries are among the world’s poorest 20, with Niger having the lowest Human Development Index in the world. The threats of food insecurity and climate change are compounded by civil unrest, terrorism, and the Ebola crisis, all of which feed the vicious cycle of rural poverty and insecurity in the region.
Despite these challenges, the countries of the Niger Basin have developed one of the world’s most progressive river management organizations, the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) that supports a strong, cooperative legal framework to govern water resources, and fosters collaboration on potential investments among the countries with boundaries on the river. The NBA is charged with ensuring that the Niger River’s water usage makes sense for the whole basin and benefits local communities.
The countries of the Basin including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria, understand that in order to address some of their most pressing development challenges, they will need to identify opportunities for cooperative development of water infrastructure.
Investments in hydropower plants, reservoirs, irrigation schemes, and navigation facilities can help reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity in the Niger Basin countries. These types of investments can contribute significantly to economic growth, food security, climate resilience, and improved livelihoods and experience in other basins across Africa has shown that these investments can be more successful if they are based on cooperative, collective action facilitated by a dedicated organization such as the NBA.