Sunday, December 31, 2006

The fate of the Niger River and the fate of West Africa

The Inter Press Service (via AllAfrica.com) has an interesting article on the affect of dimished rainfull on the communities along the Niger, one of Africa's most important rivers.

"The silting up of the Niger river has caused our revenues to tumble. The level of water does not allow for fish resources to be renewed. The fish are threatened because there are practically no more deep waters where they can breed," Lanciné Camara, who is in charge of a group of about 300 fishermen told IPS.

The the three main causes: deforestation, soil erosion and climate change, which has resulted in noticeably diminished rainfall.

As West Africa's most important waterway, the silting up of the Niger has affected 210,000 square km of arable land, and undermined the livelihood of about 110 million people.

One meterologist notes that that rainful in the south of the Niger River basin has falled from 4000 mm in 1970 to 375 mm, a decline of over 90 percent in only 35 years.

Failure to restore the river to health will have dire consequences well beyond the countries it flows through, warns [a Guinean offiial], who points out that declining harvests and fish catches lead to food insecurity, and greater poverty and misery on the African continent.

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