Opinion » Columnists

Niger Basin sets an example

Water resources: A sign of things to come.
Yesterday, we fought over land. Today, we fight over oil. Tomorrow, we will fight over water. The Niger Basin provides a useful insight into the future - nine West African countries discuss how to manage and share their common water resources.

The potential problems of water shortage have already been witnessed in this parched area of Western Africa where nine countries depend on the River Niger for their survival. In the not so distant past, armed conflict broke out over water supply, demonstrating that in extreme cases in the future, full-scale wars could break out over the management of water resources.

A lack of water spells a five-letter word: death. Communities who make their living from livestock, from agriculture or from fishing simply disappear as parched river beds break up into desert.

Bad management of water spells the same message. Silting can cause blockages and variations in flow, a lack of attention can see water courses strangled by floating water plants and a lack of care and responsibility can see massive pollution from releasing untreated chemicals or sewage, poisoning a river for hundreds or thousands of kilometers downstream.

It is to discuss these problems and to adopt common measures that nine countries have come together in the River Niger Basin Authority, under the auspices of the United Nations Organization: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger and Nigeria, with a combined
population of one hundred million people.

This is civilization, this is what mankind expects in a new world order to mirror a new millennium. Discussion, debate and dialogue, based upon a spirit of friendship and equality, under the umbrella of the UNO.

It is a pity that not all countries are civilized enough to adopt such an approach towards crisis management.


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