|In collaboration with the IAEA, 15 Sahel African Member States have taken the initiative to combine their resources and expertise to fight the water crisis in the Sahel through effective and integrated water resource management. From 5–9 March 2012, Sahel Member States, together with the IAEA, have met in Bamako for a project formulation meeting and a high level consultative meeting on water resources management in the region, to discuss the water problem, and policy and management issues related to sub-region and regional cooperation.
Cooperation is envisioned on the use and management of five aquifers located across the Sahel belt. These aquifers, if managed carefully and wisely, can provide sustainable access to safe water supplies for agriculture and people living in the area for years to come, improving their livelihoods and enhancing the socioeconomic development of the area.
The initiative aims to enable a rational and sustainable management of shared groundwater resources in the Sahel region and to increase capacities for managing collective aquifers while protecting biodiversity and land resources.
The meeting addressed the importance of international efforts in supporting on-going national and regional activities and emphasised the benefits of implementing projects in an integrated manner in collaboration with key national and regional stakeholders and partners. A project document was formulated, recording the successful outcome of the international gathering.
In addition to delegations from the Sahel African Member States, 43 national water resources specialists, 11 Permanent Secretaries of Ministries in charge of water issues in Sahel countries, and representatives of five partner organizations attended the meeting, underlining the widespread interest in the project.
International cooperation, the complementary technologies and methods of partners, together with support of isotopic techniques delivered through the IAEA’s technical cooperation programme, offer an innovative, ‘joined-up’ approach to ensuring the coherent and sustainable management of shared aquifers in the Sahel region. Collaborative partnerships with regional and international stakeholders are an important aspect of IAEA’s contribution to sustainable access to safe drinking water in Sahel Africa.