Tapping into the Riches of Mali’s Inner Niger Delta Wetland

Tapping into the Riches of Mali’s Inner Niger Delta Wetland

Tapping into the Riches of Mali’s Inner Niger Delta Wetland

By / Wetlands / Friday, 13 July 2018 13:00

A black crown. Pink ears. A sharp black beak, a few inches longer than the palm of your hand. Alert eyes that can probably see your intentions. Meet the black crowned crane. This morning, this majestic bird is gyrating next to a flooded grassland in Mali’s Inner Niger Delta. Less than a kilometre away, the River Niger flows on in a silent roar.

Amazing. Think of a football field. Now imagine 5.7 million such fields. What you have just imagined is the massive size of Mali’s Inner Niger Delta Wetland. It’s 4,119,500 square kilometers make it the second largest inland wetland in Africa after Botswana’s Okavango delta. It is a Ramsar Site that contains these three other Ramsar Sites: Lake Horo, Seri and Walado Debo.

Contained in the entire Inner Niger Delta Wetland are diverse ecosystems that include lakes, forest floodplains, flooded grasslands and savannah. Feasting on this beautiful spectacle are the 350 species of migratory birds that drop by from time to time. Every year, more than one million birds fly in from at least 80 different countries. They just can’t resist the sumptuous delights of the Wetland’s rich ecosystem. The big question however is this – do these ecosystem riches also translate into economic riches for the Malian people who live in the Wetland? Not really.

Mali’s GDP of USD14.15 GDP is almost 30 times less than Nigeria’s GDP of USD405. Even more staggering, it is 132 times less than Italy’s a country that is four times smaller than Mali.

A time has come for Mali’s extremely rich natural resources to translate into riches for Malians. This can only happen through deliberate effort to create thousands of green jobs from rich natural resources like the Inner Niger Delta Wetland. As the millennium ecosystem assessment revealed, wetlands are worth trillions of dollars.

If Mali’s Government and people, with the support and investments from the global community tap sustainably into the immense economic wealth of the Inner Niger Delta Wetland, then only the migratory birds will migrate out of Mali, not people.   

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DJ Bwakali

DJ Bwakali

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