Transboundary organization in the Niger River Basin (#46)
The Niger River basin is 1.5 million km2 and is shared by nine countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Chad). The population of the basin is about 100 million people, of which around 80% live in Nigeria. Annual population growth rate is about 3%. The GNP per capita in 1998 was less than $500 in most countries. Access to potable water is ranged from 26% to 84%. The environment is degraded from low flows and severe low water levels, silting of river beds; industrial & household pollution entailing water borne, water infestation like water hycinth, and loss of arable and pasture lands.
The Niger Basin Authority (1980), successor of the Niger River Commission (1964), was established to foster, promote and co-ordinate studies and programs relating to the Niger River basin. Today the Authority is required to promote co-operation among the member countries and to ensure integrated development of its resources, notably in the fields of energy, water resources, agriculture, forestry, exploitation, transport and communication, industry.
An institutional infrastructure was set up, which has gone through a number of restructuring and presently consists of:
- the Summit of Heads and Government for policy making;
- the Council of Ministers;
- the Technical Committee of Experts;
- the Executive Secretariat responsible for implementing decisions of higher bodies.
A number of projects have been carried out including a study on institutional set up, the establishment of a documentation centre, sedimentation modelling, and desertification control. In spite of the investments made over the years, the benefits have not been felt and individual countries have developed the river for various uses in their countries without references to their NBA.
- The need for focussed mandates as against wide and non-specific mandates.
- The difficulty of having RBOs with many members would be better to break basin into sub-basins and form RBOs with the sub-basin riparians.
- The need to attempt a few achievable critical activities
- The dangers of an RBO working without a protocol for sharing water resources
- The need to avoid over dependence on ESAs.
Importance of case for IWRM
Many of the rivers in the West African regions are shared, four of them have RBOs. The case offers the future RBOs examples of pitfalls to avoid in order to assure success of their efforts at co-operation to share their water resources to maximise their socio-economic benefits while at the same time ensuring the survival of their terrestrial and aquatic ecosystem.
Nii Boi Ayibotele
firstname.lastname@example.org, Nii Consult