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

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.