Transboundary disaster risk management along the Niger River in Niger and Mali

Project description

Title: Transboundary disaster risk management along the Niger River in Niger and Mali
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Niger, Mali
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Planning and Community Development
Overall term: 2013 to 2016

Niger. Risk analysis in the village of Dia Dia Kado. © GIZ


Mali and Niger are among the countries most at risk of drought worldwide. Away from the major river systems, constant water shortages, progressive desertification and soil erosion are increasingly hampering agricultural activities.

According to the records kept by the Niger Basin Authority (NBA), the volume of water in the River Niger is decreasing on the whole. However, peak flow levels are reached with increasing frequency due to shorter annual rainy seasons accompanied by irregular heavy rainfall and siltation in the river. Gao Region in Mali and Tillabéri Region in Niger are particularly badly affected by periodic flooding. The predominantly rural population in these regions is poor and growing rapidly. This group is therefore particularly vulnerable and has been unable to adapt to the new risks. Floods and their effects are increasingly threatening the livelihoods of the people in these regions.


The population and municipal administrative units along the Niger River are able to adapt to the new risks and protect themselves from flooding.

Niger. Preventive measures to reduce risks (erosion control) in the village of Kokomanimé. © GIZ


The project takes a holistic and inclusive approach that begins with providing support for conducting vulnerability assessments in communities located along the river. Municipal action plans are prepared on the basis of these participatory surveys. They include individual measures to prevent and mitigate the impacts of disasters – for instance reinforcing slopes, constructing dams, conducting erosion protection measures, and increasing vegetation levels. Disaster preparedness measures are also part of the plans. Risk mapping is an important analysis instrument. The introduction of effective, regionally coordinated early warning systems and contingency plans is a particular priority.

The advice and needs-based measures provided under the project focus on two main areas:

  1. Improving the capability of all relevant government institutions to manage flood risks
  2. Supporting municipalities in the technical planning and implementation of risk mitigation measures


On the basis of an analysis of the 2012 and 2013 floods, 40 villages at risk of flooding were identified in ten municipalities. The villages used vulnerability assessments to produce maps for risk analyses and action plans. This participatory process increased interest in the overall problem, not only among the directly affected parties, but also among the governmental partners.

Initial measures that contribute to disaster risk reduction were carried out: a river weir was constructed, riverbanks and fords were reinforced, erosion protection measures were conducted, and the dams were repaired. The partner municipalities commissioned the building work, and Ministry of Agriculture officials were involved in the implementation process. All of the measures were labour-intensive, which generated additional income for the local population.

A flood early warning system and emergency plans have been created and approved. In order to make the system as effective as possible, it utilises both local (rainfall and river level measurements) and national data sources (weather and runoff forecasts). As part of a pilot phase agreed with partners in Tillabéri Region, the project is supporting municipalities and villages in introducing these instruments.

Niger. Preventive measures to reduce risks (erosion control) in the village of Kokomanimé. © GIZ

All decision-making of relevance to the project is carried out by a regional steering committee. This platform, which involves stakeholders from the partner municipalities as well as the districts and Tillabéri Region, helps to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change. Training activities are being used to enhance this knowledge, which plays a key role in change processes.