Tuesday, December 17, 2013

West Africa hopes new hydropower dams will cut poverty, climate risk

Elias Ntungwe Ngalame at the Thomson Reuters Foundation: West African states in the Niger River Basin are seeking to tackle climate risks and reduce poverty by constructing three hydropower dams in the next five years. In late November, the Council of Ministers of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA), meeting in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde, endorsed an environmental and climate action plan for sustainable management of the scenic basin and its rich natural resources, which have come under threat from climate change.

The projects include a 102 megawatt (MW) hydropower dam at Fomi in Guinea, a 25 MW hydropower plant in Toussa, Mali, and the 565 MW Kandadji dam in Niger. These aim to boost hydro-electricity and irrigation, reduce desertification and flooding, and improve economic activities across the region.

“The West African region is facing urgent problems of food security, rural poverty and climate change that demand answers in the form of investment and infrastructure. We need to give a push to these three multi-purpose hydropower dam projects as a sustainable solution that involves the region’s largest river,” NBA executive secretary Collins Ihekire said in a statement at the Yaounde gathering.

The NBA is the coordinating body for the 4,200 km-long (2,600-mile) Niger River, bringing together the governments of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

The NBA also agreed to rehabilitate three hydropower plants at Kainji, Jebda and Lagdo, as well as multiple run-of-river hydropower stations, optimise water storage, set up irrigation schemes for an additional 1 million hectares (2.5 million hectares) of land, and increase hydropower production to 1,000 gigawatt hours per day.

“Integrating future climate change adaptation and mitigation into our development action plan will enable...sustainable management of our water resources, to better the livelihood of the over 106 million population in the area,” said Emmanuel Nganou Djoumesi, Cameroon’s minister of the economy, planning and regional development, at the closing of the Yaounde meeting....

The Niger River from space

No comments: