UNEP's Work - Featured Project

Lake Faguibine: Restoring a lifeline

FaguibineMali’s Lake Faguibine dried up in the 1970s with far-reaching implications for the livelihoods of more than 200,000 people living in its hinterland. The local communities were forced to abandon their traditional livelihoods, which revolved around agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishery.

The inflows to Lake Faguibine are mainly from the Niger River’s flood waters. During prolonged rainfall in the Fouta Djalon highlands in Guinea, the Niger River floods
and forces water to flow through two channels into the lake.

Unfortunately, climate change has led to erratic rainfall patterns as well as advancing the Sahara desert southward. Sand dunes block parts of the channels, thereby preventing the replenishment of Lake Faguibine. In addition, the little water that is still flowing in the channels is used for various purposes. Upstream, people use the water for large scale irrigation and to produce hydropower.

All these factors combine to deprive Lake Faguibine of much needed water.

At the request of the Government of Mali, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is implementing a project to rehabilitate the Lake Faguibine ecosystem. This project follows in the footsteps of UNEP’s successful ecosystem rehabilitation of the Iraqi Marshlands, the world’s largest wetland ecosystems. The Marshland was rehabilitated through reflooding resulting in widespread increase in vegetation cover and increased accessibility to clean, drinking water for more than 100,000 people living in or near the Marshlands.

In Mali, UNEP is working with local partners to sensitise communities upstream and downstream on the need to regulate and preserve the water flow in the Niger River and in the channels. The project’s participatory management planning will reconcile upstream and downstream competition for water, for equitable human wellbeing.

The Lake Faguibine ecosystem restoration project involves re-flooding of the lake’s 600 square kilometers. A rehabilitated Lake Faguibine will re-energize the delivery of the lake’ s ecosystem services. For instance fishery was once estimated at 5,000 tons annually. Its restoration will boost livelihoods of local fishermen and provide food to thousands of people as well as migratory waterbirds.

The restored ecosystem will also revive recession agriculture along the lake’s coastlines. Produce from livestock, farming, and fishing will be transported through invigorated water transport.