Senegal: Malian President calls for action to save Niger River

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta on Sunday called on the international community to save the river Niger from the harmful effects of the creeping Sahara desert, warning that this vital source of water may disappear.

Speaking in Dakar at the opening ceremony of an African Heads of State Summit on the funding of infrastructure, the President said the harmful effects of the desert could be observed by flying over the river Niger from Bamako to Timbouctou.

“One can see a succession of dunes in the bed of the river that prevent navigation and mobility of the populations," he said.

President Keïta stressed that if measures were not taken the river could become a legend like the Atlantide.

“The river should be dredged urgently," he said, adding that if the river disappeared millions of people would suffer from food insecurity.

The President recalled that the Niger Office, a structure created in 1938, existed because of the river and this had allowed Mali to shelter one of the biggest rice-growing areas in West Africa.

"Without being excessively alarmist, I express gravely and solemnly our concern regarding the fate of this river", he declared.

The 4,100 km long river Niger is the longest in Africa running from the high plateau of Guinea-Conakry, passing through the dry zones of the Sahel before reaching the Atlantic Ocean in south-east Nigeria.

River Niger, source of life for a big part of the Sahel, passes through the dry zones of Mali and Niger.

Every year, it floods the inland delta of the Niger, in Mali, allowing for fishing and providing water for irrigation and domestic uses to about two million people and millions of migratory birds.
-0- PANA AAS/BEH/NA/MA 15June 2014

15 june 2014 14:37:28




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