News / Africa

    Researchers Seek Solutions to Climate Change in Niger River Basin

    A Tuareg woman walks during a sandstorm in Ingal, Niger, September 18, 2011.
    A Tuareg woman walks during a sandstorm in Ingal, Niger, September 18, 2011.
    Nico Colombant

    As the world prepares to discuss climate change in South Africa next week, activists and researchers are pointing to a region that has been among the most affected in recent years - the Niger River basin in West Africa. In addition to identifying the region's problems, there has been an effort to find solutions to help vulnerable populations there.

    A video on the website of the Netherlands-based group Wetlands International shows scenes of parched land, dried up river beds and deforestation in the Niger River basin.

    Activist Bakary Kone describes the situation in his own country, Mali.

    "The rainfall is dropping. It is expected during the coming 100 years [that] rainfall will drop about 20 percent. Where we are now, the temperature is about 40 degrees Celsius. This temperature is expected to rise during the coming 80 years from two to seven degrees Celsius," said Kone.

    Erratic weather patterns

    The Niger River extends more than 4,000 kilometers in five countries. Running in a crescent shape, it starts in Guinea and goes through Mali, Niger, on the border of Benin and into Nigeria before discharging through the Niger Delta in the Atlantic Ocean.

    Research by different groups and universities indicates that in the river's surrounding regions, rainfall has been down in recent years and that weather patterns have become less predictable, with shorter rainy seasons and longer droughts. When the rains do come, they often have been heavier than usual with more instances of flooding.

    Researchers say development initiatives have made matters worse, with, for example, river dredging and the building of dams that sometimes create more parched land. Some small-scale farmers have been asked to reduce their production of water-intensive crops, such as vegetables and rice, while governments have sold large tracts of land for sugar cane and ethanol production, which consume even more water.

    At a recent conference here in Washington, Lulsegged Abebe, the West Africa manager for the London-based group International Alert, said development policies and climate change adaptation strategies often contradict each other.

    Creating holistic development plans

    "The issue of development and adaptation, we think, they are not different and they should not be perceived as different. Both of them are for change. If both are going to be a change agent, then we have to really synchronize them so that they would be able, and they would be meaningful to the beneficiaries rather than making it separate and looking at it separately," said Abebe.

    While climate conditions have become more difficult, researchers and activists say there also is a greater probability of clashes between farmers and herders. One positive initiative, they point out, is the creation of clearly marked cattle corridors to avoid such problems.

    Marisa Goulden of the University of East Anglia in Britain also applauds a very localized weather forecasting system that is being tried in Mali.

    "The agrometeorology department has a wide network of farmers who take measurements of rainfall and feed these back to the agrometeorology department by various networks, and they monitor soil moisture and crop responses in an attempt to produce forecasts," said Goulden.

    Goulden told the conference that government officials in Mali are using the data to improve the efficiency of cloud seeding flights that are intended to produce rain. She also praised efforts to increase early warning systems for droughts and floods, but said many of these efforts are poorly funded.

    One warning that researchers at the conference made was that worsening economic conditions caused by climate change, along with poor governance, might explain the rise in recruits among violent Islamic radical groups in the region.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora