Picardy Region –12 municipalities in Madaoua, Malbaza and Konni Departments (Niger): remediation of natural areas threatened by climate hazards (17 November 2015)

In Niger, a vast country in the Sahel zone of West Africa, global warming has led to less frequent but more intense rainfall. Rain and sandstorms erode farmland until there is nothing left for crops or livestock.

Repeated food crises are forcing the population to leave their villages.

Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, must find ways to protect and develop its resources in the face of extreme climate shocks. Since 2007, the Picardy Region of France and the municipalities in the Departments of Madaoua, Malbaza and Konni in Niger have been jointly running a project to support sustainable management of natural resources in the region. The aim is recreate biodiversity and, as a result, stimulate farming and herding.


Sustainable Management of Natural Resources


In the member municipalities of APIMAK, which is the French acronym for "Association for the Promotion of Inter-Municipal Cooperation in the 12 Municipalities of the Madaoua, Malbaza and Konni Departments".

How many people will benefit?

An estimated 1.2 million people

Who is involved?

  • Picardy Region, France
  • APIMAK municipalities
  • IRAM (NGO/consultancy, Paris)
  • CIEDEL (research centre for local development, Lyon)
  • RAIL (NGO, Niger)

The situation

  • Land degradation on the tablelands, slopes and glacis

Land degradation can be seen in the gradual loss of vegetation cover until there is nothing but bare earth. This renders it useless for wildlife, rain-fed crops and the herds of settled and/or nomadic pastoralists. The factors that contribute to land degradation include deforestation, wind erosion and rainfall impact.

  • Creation of ravines

Ravines are formed by rainwater runoff that the soil cannot absorb. Rushing water gouges ravines and gains momentum, destroying the crops and huts that are in its path. It removes topsoil and other matter and discharges them in the lowlands and ponds, contributing to silting.

  • Gradual shifting of sand dunes

Wind erosion is gradually shifting the dunes in the APIMAK municipalities. The moving dunes threaten the local population’s crops and sometimes their homes. The phenomenon is worsening with the loss of vegetation on adjacent lands, facilitating the formation of dust and sand clouds.

  • Silting of lowlands, water courses and ponds

Wind and rill erosion dislodges sand and dust and discharges it in the fertile areas of the lowlands, watercourses and ponds. As a result, the ponds and watercourses become shallower and dry out faster. The phenomenon has a huge impact on fishery and market gardening, which become difficult or impossible.

  • Clogging of ponds by invasive plant species

Some ponds are clogged by grass species that spread rapidly. This causes the ponds to dry out faster and they become inaccessible to fishermen. Dry-season cropping after the water recedes is becoming almost impossible as a result of the grasses and their root systems.

What are the objectives?

  • Expand remediation of endangered natural and productive areas (soils, ponds, etc.);
  • Enable sustainable local, integrated management of the recovered areas and productive capital;
  • Strengthen local authorities’ governance over natural resource management;
  • Support action research into local solutions to build climate resilience.

What solutions have been implemented ?

  • Building stone bunds and small earth embankments on any sloping ground. Planting trees behind these barriers. Seeds, water and dust from fertile land are carried by wind and rain and collect in the pits: exactly what is needed for vegetation to return. When grasses, bushes and trees are established, they protect the soil from erosion, their roots stop the dunes from encroaching on crops, and there is fodder for livestock again;
  • Annual campaigns to clear clogged ponds (cutting back and removing invasive reeds and grasses) and to stock ponds with fish;
  • Techniques to manage koris (temporary streams) that threaten homes and infrastructure in the municipalities;
  • Experimental work on the concerted management of resources through the design of a forest development plan. This should make it possible to define the processes for the restoration, management and operation of forest systems;
  • The implementation and management of frameworks for municipal consultation between municipal officials and local actors, where they can share issues relating to natural resource management;
  • Action research initiatives on climate resilience, in particular Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) and local initiatives.

In what ways is the programme ecological and consistent with the concept of sustainable development?

The project has a short-term and a long-term impact on all the dimensions of sustainable development.

  • Ecological impact: the soils become fertile again, and vegetation cover, fauna and biodiversity are restored.
  • Impact on the population’s food security: land becomes productive again, easing the pressure on arable land and mitigating the long-term risks of food insecurity.
  • Economic impact: farming and herding are vital activities, which support most of the economy in the region.
  • Impact on governance: local populations are involved in actions that benefit the community, which become an issue in dialogue with municipal officials.

What has been achieved ?

In figures:

  • Anti-erosion techniques implemented on more than 5,000 hectares of land,
  • More than 1 million seedlings grown and planted (species: Senegalia senegal, Vachellia seyal, etc.),
  • 275 hectares of wetlands recovered,
  • Eight ponds stocked with fish and two fish hatcheries started,
  • Almost 1,000 people trained in anti-erosion techniques.
  • Areas with renewed vegetation cover and a gradual improvement in biodiversity (fauna & flora)
Photo : CR Picardie / RAIL
  • Areas recovered after three to five years of fallowing, which that can be cultivated and/or used for grazing. The rural communities that use the land benefit from these resources (wild foods, fodder, etc.)
Photo : CR Picardie / RAIL
  • Wetlands cleared of invasive plant species
Photo : CR Picardie / RAIL
  • Restoration of fish diversity with the reintroduction of local fish species (carp, perch) into ponds, boosting local fishery and protein food security for the population of the region
Photo : CR Picardie / RAIL
Image Diaporama - Building anti-erosion structures. Photo: (...)

Building anti-erosion structures. Photo: Picardy Regional Council/RAIL

Image Diaporama - Wind erosion is shifting the dunes in the (...)

Wind erosion is shifting the dunes in the APIMAK region. Photo: Picardy Regional Council/RAIL

Image Diaporama - Working against soil erosion. Photo: Picardy (...)

Working against soil erosion. Photo: Picardy Regional Council/RAIL

Image Diaporama - Community discussion around a bund. Photo: (...)

Community discussion around a bund. Photo: Picardy Regional Council/RAIL

Image Diaporama - Women watering pots at the plant nursery. (...)

Women watering pots at the plant nursery. Photo: Picardy Regional Council/RAIL

Image Diaporama - Women from the 12 member municipalities of (...)

Women from the 12 member municipalities of APIMAK making pots for the plant nurseries. Photo: Picardy Regional Council/RAIL