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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid