Transnational water management in the River Niger Basin

Project description

Title: Support for the Niger Basin Authority (NBA)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Niger
Lead executing agency: Niger Basin Authority (NBA)
Overall term: 2019 to 2022

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With a length of 4,200 kilometres, the River Niger is the third longest river in Africa. Around 130 million people live in the catchment area, which covers some two million square kilometres. The Niger Basin Authority (NBA, or Autorité du Bassin du Niger) was founded in 1964 to promote coordinated cooperation in the management of resources in the Niger Basin. Its member states are Niger, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Cameroon, Mali, Benin, Nigeria and Chad.

Cooperation between these riparian countries has the potential to alleviate the serious problems facing development in the region. For example, better water management facilitates the expansion of irrigation farming. This would in turn lead to higher yields and improve food supply. The energy supply can also be improved by building dams. Relations between the riparian states in the Niger Basin have also been put on a firm legal basis to a significant extent. This has helped establish important political, institutional and legal foundations for stronger regional cooperation but the potential of the cooperation has yet to be fully harnessed. For instance, hardly any joint projects on the development of transboundary water resources have been successfully implemented to date. The NBA does not fully exercise its mandate to provide advice and guidance on the sustainable development of transnational water resources.


The NBA advises its member states on the sustainable development of transboundary water resources in the Niger Basin and successfully manages the necessary processes.


The project helps the NBA to complete the legal framework for transnational cooperation, to improve development planning for water resources at the catchment area level and to foster communication between authorities on issues such as flood protection.

Legal framework for transnational cooperation: The project supports the Executive Secretariat of the NBA in developing an implementation mechanism (issue: legal status of shared infrastructure) for the Water Charter. The Water Charter is a contract that is legally binding under international law between member states which addresses issues related to cooperation and stipulates regulations.

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Steering instruments for the development of water resources: Joint work plans that set out the roles of various stakeholders or improve financial monitoring, for example, are being developed to improve cooperation between the Executive Secretariat and member states.

Better prerequisites for communication between the NBA and the national authorities responsible for flood protection: One of the impacts of the work of GIZ and its partners is that flood warnings are issued more quickly to the member states


The NBA has successfully guided the preparation of the regional development plan. It has identified 350 development measures in the form of projects with cross-border impacts, including 246 climate-relevant projects.

The parliaments of the nine member states have ratified the Water Charter as a legally binding foundation and set of regulations for transnational cooperation.

So far, three implementation mechanisms for the water charters for environmental protection, notification procedures and a cost-benefit balance have been developed and approved by NBA Council of Ministers on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

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Nine country representations have been established for civil society in the member states. These facilitate the ongoing participation of civil society in consultations on transboundary water management.

An increase in the capacity of the NBA’s Observatory, a unit responsible for the evaluation of hydrological data, allows flood risk to be assessed efficiently and accurately within 24 hours.

Additional information