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Fouta Djallon: Saving West Africa’s depleting biodiversity

The overexploitation of the resources of the Fouta Djallon highlands in Guinea threatens the biodiversity of the area and endangers…

The overexploitation of the resources of the Fouta Djallon highlands in Guinea threatens the biodiversity of the area and endangers the survival of several major West African rivers that originate there.By Abdourahmane Diallo

The degradation of the Fouta Djallon Massif ecosystem (MFD/Guinea) is a concern for African authorities.

 Over the last few decades, a number of threats have combined to endanger the natural resources of the massif and have contributed to a decline in their value as a source of water, endemic biodiversity and bio-productive potential of the environment.

Although the underlying causes are many and varied, the main reasons remain pressure from populations, limited and ineffective policies, and weak institutions.

To remedy this situation, the Senegalese capital has, since Tuesday 22 June 2021, been hosting the 5th Steering Committee of the Fouta Djallon Massif Integrated Natural Resource Management Project. 

The aim is to revive the Regional Integrated Management Programme of the Fouta Djallon Massif (PRAI-MFD).

The latter was set up by the African Union, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the United Nations Office for the Sudano-Sahelian Region (UNSO).

The objective of the PRAI-MFD is to ensure the protection and rational use of the natural resources of the massif, in order to contribute to the improvement of the living standards of the population living in the highlands.

It is funded by the Global Environment Facility to the tune of $11 million through the United Nations Environment Programme and involves eight countries that depend on water from the massif: Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone.

The project’s development objective is to establish sustainable management of the MFD’s natural resources over the medium to long term (2025) in order to contribute to improving the living conditions of the populations of the regions directly or indirectly dependent on the MFD.

Its environmental objective is to mitigate the causes and negative impacts of land degradation on the structural and functional integrity of the massif’s ecosystems through the establishment of a regional legal and institutional framework and strengthening institutional capacities in order to foster collaboration in the field of MFD management.

This environmental objective will also involve appraising the state of natural resources and developing replicable models for sustainable community-based land management.

The ten-year project will be divided into two phases of four and six years respectively. 

The first phase will focus on the establishment of an institutional and legal framework and capacity development to create an enabling environment for strengthening regional collaboration, as well as on the implementation of demonstration activities in pilot sites and upper river basins.

The second phase will focus on consolidating and scaling up successful models and methods for replication in shared river basins and trans-boundary areas.

“The conduct of this important project remains a technical exercise but its success depends on the broad participation of all stakeholders. As can be seen, the implementation of this project requires consultation, communication and capacity building of all stakeholders,” said Gogo Banel Ndiaye, Technical Advisor No. 1 to the Senegalese Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development.

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