Niger River Ecological Problems
“The Niger River is a source of water and food for five African nations: Guinea, Mali, Niger, Benin, and Nigeria. Another five African nations have land that is part of the Niger Basin, totalling 2.3 million km2 and including the area drained by one very large tributary, the Benue River. While the Niger’s headwaters are in Guinea not far from the Atlantic Coast, the headwaters of the Benue River are east of Nigeria in Chad.
With a total length of about 4100 km, the Niger is the third-longest river in Africa, but it follows an arcuate path to reach the Atlantic Ocean a mere 1,700 kilometers from it’s source. Deforestation and farming of fragile soils, particularly in the upper and middle river reaches, are resulting in siltation that is changing the river’s hydrology and drastically reducing discharge in the lower reaches. Although international cooperation is not perfect, several nations and the nation of Niger in particular do have strong programs aimed at solving the ecological problems.
Drawing upon more than $2 million from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Niger’s “Programme to Protect the Banks of the Niger” focuses on building sand banks that will retain rain water and prevent it from carrying solid matter towards the river bed. Mahaman Laminou Attaou, national director for the environment in Niger’s Ministry of Water Affairs, Environment and the Fight Against Desertification, reports that more than 6,000 of the 100,000 hectares of land that need to be restored have been dealt with over the past four years. Attaou estimates that a further 7,500 hectares will be restored this year.
I tip my hat to Brian of Black Star Journal for the initial link to a story on ecological problems faced by the Niger River.”
Here is Jenny Litchfield’s comment (and appreciation) on my former message “Bottle gardening – some experiments” :
“It seems as if this would be a great way for children and youth to learn how to grow plants as part of their schooling“.
Jenny, I fully agree !
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Food Not Lawns!
The vast expanse of forever-green American lawn is not only the most resource intensive agricultural crop in the world, but also an obscene icon to our arrogant privilege and total alienation from a life in harmony with nature.
For those of us living in the cities, surrounded by cars and concrete where we can’t even see the stars, it is not difficult to see the ways we are disconnected from nature, and the cycles out of which we receive the elements essential to life. This has enormous implications in how we interact both biologically and socially. Agri-culture, taken at the root to mean “culture of the soil” out of which all life springs, is related to all aspects of our cultural life. For example, today most of our foods come to us via established cultural institutions governed by a handfull of agro-chemical/ pharmaceutical/ life-sciences corporations. Our entire industrial civilization is needed to provide for our basic needs.
Continue reading We need food, not lawns ! (Shawn Green)
I have read today:
Asian Dust (also yellow dust, or yellow sand)
“Asian Dust (also yellow dust, or yellow sand) is a seasonal meteorological phenomenon which affects much of East Asia sporadically during the springtime months. The dust originates in the deserts of Mongolia and northern China where high-speed surface winds and intense dust storms kick up dense clouds of fine, dry soil particles. These clouds are then carried eastward by prevailing winds and pass over China, North and South Korea, and Japan. Sometimes, the airborne particulates are carried much further, in significant concentrations which affect air quality as far east as the United States. Areas affected by the dust experience decreased visibility and the dust is known to cause health problems, such as sore throat and respiratory difficulties, in residents. The dust has been shown to increase the daily mortality rate in one affected region by 1.7%. The effects of the dust are not, however, strictly negative, as it is thought to enrich the soil of the regions where it is eventually deposited by contributing important trace minerals.
Continue reading Asian dust (Technorati)
Today I read at:
Desertification prevention and treatment will take time and hard work
“Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao called for ‘unremitting efforts’ to halt desertification and promote sustainable economic and social development at a recently concluded meeting on desertification prevention and treatment.
Statistics show that of the 2070 counties in China, roughly 880 have been affected by desertification and more than 300 seriously. Approximately 400 million people are affected by the problem every year. Desertification causes a direct economic loss of 50 billion yuan or nearly US$7 billion each year. Beijing people remember well a day in April last year when a desert storm hit the city, leaving yellow dirt everywhere.
Continue reading Desertification prevention and treatment in China (People’s Daily on line)
Garry Peterson December 16th, 2006 in Vulnerability, Greenlash
Today I have been reading at:
“SciDev.net reports that Forced migration from desertification and land degradation is an emerging environmental issue. Researchers are trying to identify policies that increase the resilience of agro-ecosystems to climate change and decrease social vulnerability to desertification:
Desertification could create more than 135 million refugees, as droughts become more frequent and climate change makes water increasingly scarce in dryland regions, warn UN experts. …”Migration is a top-of-mind political issue in many countries. We are at the beginning of an unavoidably long process,” said Janos Bogardi, director of the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security.
Drylands are home to one third of the world’s population, but they contain only eight per cent of global freshwater resources.
Continue reading Decreasing vulnerability to desertification (Resilience Science)
Read today at:
9 Jan 2007
From All Africa:
“As the government pushes for industrialisation at the expense of the country’s limited forest cover, Uganda once dubbed the pearl of Africa may eventually become a sterile desert, a fate that has befallen 30 percent of the world’s dry lands. According to a World Bank report, three-quarters of dry lands in Africa and North America are at some stage of desertification.
Biodiversity defined as the full variety of life from genes to species to ecosystems, is in trouble when government’s deforestation plans go ahead un-abetted.
Although tropical rain forests like the Bugala forests on Kalangala Island cover only 6 percent of the land surface, they contain more than half of the rare species of plants and animals of the entire world.”