June 19, 2008
New Niger River Programme Agreed
Environment West African leaders, meeting at a summit convened in the Nigerien capital Niamey, have endorsed a 20-year rescue plan to save the Niger River. The $8.6bn project will involve four five- year programmes to reforest, rehabilitate land, and dredge to remove silt from the 4,200km-long river. The Niger Basin Authority (ABN) commits the nine member nations to preserve the ecosystem of one of Africa's most important rivers and ensure a fair distribution of its waters to meet the needs of local people.
The ABN has been increasingly concerned that the river has been seriously threatened by drought and silting, which has drastically reduced its flow impacting navigation and the fish population. More than 110m people living in the river's basin area are reliant on the river for potable water, irrigation, fishing and transport. More than 80% of the funds allocated for the 639 projects agreed in Niamey have been earmarked for the development of social and economic infrastructures. The remaining funds will be used on projects for the protection of natural resources and ecosystems. Copyright International Communications Jun 2008
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