Nelly Bassily | May 24, 2010
The Inner Niger Delta in Mali is a three million hectare wetland consisting of flood plains, lakes, river branches and small pockets of flood forest. It is part of the 4,200 kilometre Niger River catchment, which flows through 10 countries before discharging into the Atlantic Ocean. The delta is a very important habitat for a large range of water-dependent plant and animal species.
The delta’s human inhabitants are among the poorest people in Mali, partly as a result of unsustainable resource management practices and overexploitation of resources. The main ethnic groups in the region include Fulani (who are cattle breeders), Bozo and Somono (both fishermen), and Bambara and Rimaibe (who are farmers).
More information about wetlands and their importance can be found at: http://www.wetlands.org/Aboutus/Whatarewetlands/tabid/202/Default.aspx and http://www.wetlandprofessionals.org/content/view/17/53/.
More information on the BioRights strategy, as outlined by Wetlands International, is available at: http://www.wetlands.org/Whatwedo/Wetlandsandlivelihoods/BioRights/tabid/1874/Default.aspx.
In 2008 Farm Radio International published a radio script written by Joshua Kyalimpa, entitled “New rice variety for Africa to save wetlands in Uganda.” In this script we hear how a local initiative in Uganda is ensuring that rice lovers can enjoy their delicacy without destroying the environment: http://farmradio.org/english/radio-scripts/84-3script_en.asp.
Many countries in Africa have wetland areas. Their value, uses and importance are often overlooked. You may wish to investigate the importance of wetlands in your region. Questions to look at could include:
-Which wetlands are in this region? Do listeners think they are important? For what reasons?
-Have the wetlands changed in recent years? Has the size changed, for example, or do more or fewer people use them? Are any local wetlands preserved by legal means?
-How are the wetlands used? Are they used for tourism? If they contain useful natural resources, do communities have the legal rights to these resources?