By Luca Ferrini, Lucia Benavides and Daba Samira
Context and justification
The Inner Niger Delta (IND) is a natural region of Mali extending over 64,000 km2, lying at 4 to 6 degrees West longitude and 13 to16 degrees North latitude, between the cities of Djenné and Timbuktu. It is located at an intermediate part of the Niger River, where the river opens up into many branches before returning to a normal course.
Since 2012 an armed conflict, has affected Mali, particularly the north and centre, causing the death of more than 6,000 people and the displacement of more than 500,000. This has resulted, among other things, in different users competing over natural resources in the Niger Delta. Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, is a growing and determining factor in clashes between farmers in this area, including farmers and herders.
As part of its mission to better manage water -a threatened resource-, as well as to profit from cooperation and peacebuilding efforts in this area, the Partnership for Water, Peace and Security (WPS) organized a workshop on water, peace and security from the 2nd to 4th of July 2019 at the Hotel Mandé in Bamako, Mali.
Actors and Results
The workshop was facilitated by the GIZ FREXUS project, as part of the collaboration that is currently being formalized with the WPS. The FREXUS project (NEXUS in Fragile Contexts) is funded by the European Commission and the German government and covers three countries (Mali, Niger and Chad). Participants from Ministries, international non-governmental organizations and Malian civil society had the methods and tools developed by the WPS at their disposal to carry out different analyses on how changes in the hydrological situation can affect the livelihoods of local communities in the IND.
The approach consisted in pooling knowledge from different experts and stakeholders in Mali, to generate a shared and in-depth understanding of the links between water scarcity and security problems in the IND region.
As the ultimate result of this common understanding of water-security linkages, it will be possible to identify and implement concrete actions to address challenges in an efficient manner.
The ‘Group Model Building’ method, which facilitates the analysis of causes and effects in complex situations, was used to analyse the potential security impacts on the IND if water availability changes (increases or decreases). Subsequently, participants used the hydrological tools specifically developed for the IND, to identify the potential impact on the Delta’s water availability, for example if the irrigated area of the Office du Niger increases, or if the Fomi dam is built. Finally, a human response model was used to assess the impact of infrastructure changes on the livelihoods of local communities and their adaptation choices at the concrete daily level. Based on these achievements, a conflict-sensitive planning method was applied by the experts to determine possible interventions for sustainable water resources management.
Participants developed recommendations to guide future steps in the process of identifying and implementing concrete actions to address challenges emerging from the linkage between water shortage and security in an appropriate, efficient and timely manner.
The overview includes the organizations that feel responsible for the implementation of the recommendations. The overall coordination of the next steps will be provided by the Wetlands International office in Mali, supported by International Alert Mali, as well as by the Water, Peace and Security Partnership (WPS).
Peer learning among Malian experts from different fields of intervention was extremely important for the implementation of the workshop and subsequent activities. Participants gave a very positive evaluation of the interactive methodology, which allowed them to exchange with their peers and thus have access to other points of view on the subject, enriching possibilities for effective action. The objective is to invest in this network of experts and to identify how their ideas could contribute to informing the high-level meeting on water, peace and security to be held in late 2019.