Friday, December 25, 2009

Local communities combat desertification in Mali's Lake Faguibine region

Allyn Gaestel in via MediaGlobal: The Lake Faguibine region in Northern Mali was once a thriving water system. Communities were built around the source, with agricultural and pastoral lifestyles dependent on the natural resource. However in the past hundred years the lake has experienced fluctuations of drought, completely drying up in 1914, 1924 and 1944, and remaining at drastically low levels since the 1970s.

In the past 40 years droughts have led to hundreds of thousands of human deaths and the loss of millions of livestock. Climate change has already had a visibly disastrous impact on this area and without local and global mitigation efforts the situation can only worsen.

"Before the complete drying up of the Lakes, this area was the hearth of economic development for Mali and surrounding neighboring countries (Burkina Faso and Mauritania)," Dr. Birguy M. Lamizana-Diallo, told MediaGlobal. "Thus, if effort is put into the restoration of this ecosystem, its services and functions, it will again play a leading role for food security (agriculture, fisheries, and livestock) and economic growth for Mali." Lamizana-Diallo is technical advisor for a UNEP/Mali ecosystem management project for Lake Faguibine.

The lake has long played a central role in local livelihoods. But with the changing climate and the advance of the Sahara, people in the region have abandoned their original economic activities. According to Lamizana-Diallo, "Nomadic groups lost most of their livestock and became sedentary in order to benefit from emergency relief programs or migrated into cities."

Now surviving communities are fighting back and working to restore the ecosystem so they can return to their normal, fruitful lives. Since 2002, villages have mobilized to clear channels and enable the lake to fill again. In 2006 the Malian government created l'Office pour la Mise en Valeur du Faguibine (OMVF) to support the local response in addressing desertification in the region…

Seen from a NASA satellite: Lake Faguibine, Lake Komango, Lake Tele, Lake Oro, Lake Fati, Mali - April 1991


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