Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Summit opens to save shrinking Niger River

Agence France-Presse: A summit of West African states met on Wednesday aiming to save the region's fast-shrinking Niger River from drying up by approving a 5.5 billion-euro plan. The leaders of Benin, Mali, Niger and Chad and representatives from five other neighbouring countries attended the eighth summit of the Niger Basin Authority (ABN), which started on Wednesday morning in Niger's capital Niamey.

In his opening speech, Niger's president Mamadou Tandja expressed his concern over the drastic fall of up to 55 percent in the river's flow over the past 20 years, mainly due to climate change and growing populations. He warned that "the challenges and stakes" of improving the Niger River basin were now more important than ever, for food security and water resources.

The summit aims to adopt a 20-year, 5.5-billion-euro (8.6-billion-dollar) plan to rescue Africa's third longest river, measuring 4,200 kilometres (2,600 miles), which suffers from silting, low rainfall and drifting vegetation. Tandja said the plan would be implemented in four five-year phases. In the first phase, the ABN would ask donors for 1.4 billion euros (2.18 billion dollars) at a meeting on June 23, he said….

The river Niger in Bamako (Mali), by Didier Coeurnelle in 2006, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2

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