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Mali - Water management of wetlands: towards setting a methodology for determining environmental flows for the Upper and Inner Niger Delta


The development of a participatory methodology for determining environmental flows for the Upper and Inner Niger Delta, was the purpose of the international workshop that Wetlands International Mali through the BAM-GIRE project, recently held in Bamako from 7th to 10th June 2016. The meeting was attended by leading experts and academics working on hydraulic modeling and hydrology among others thematic.

''River flows are fundamental to rivers and the hydro systems process. We must therefore establish the essential flows sustaining the delta''. Such is the statement made by Professor Lamissa Diabaté, Mali’s Secretary General of the Ministry of Energy and Water, opened the proceedings of the international workshop of rigorous methodology for determining environmental flows for the Upper Niger and the Inner Niger Delta. Pr Diabaté stressed that the need to support the establishment of such a tool for decision making is pressing because the effects of climate change and human activities are increasingly unprecedented on water resources with an increased vulnerability of people and ecosystems.

This meeting initiated by Wetlands International in Mali is part of the implementation of the Support Project to securing livelihoods and biodiversity in a changing climate, funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Mali.

''As regards the complexity of the related social economic and environmental issues, planning and operational decisions for the Upper Niger and the Inner Niger Delta must be done with great caution, '' says Dr. Karounga Keita, National coordinator of Wetlands International Office in Mali.

We have to ensure the preservation of maximum flow rates in order to maintain the level of swamped areas, otherwise the wetlands around the delta and their ecosystems will be threatened, he added.  ‘’It will also maintain an environmental flow as defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2008, which states that the water regime provided within a river, wetland and coastal zone to maintain ecosystems and the services they provide to people when the water uses are competitive and that the flows are regulated. To set the values ​​of these thresholds, there is need to establish a thorough methodology for setting necessary level for a sustained delta, using the best scientific approaches and best available data, '' says Mr. Keïta.