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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid