Protecting the WAP region biosphere reserve

Project description

Title: Transboundary biosphere reserve of the WAP region in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Devel-opment (BMZ)
Co-funded by: European Union
Country: Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger
Lead Executing agency: Benin: Ministère du Cadre de Vie et du Développement Durable (Ministry of Living Environment and Sustainable Development); Burkina Faso: Ministère de l’Environnement, de l’Économie verte et du Changement climatique (Ministry of Environment, Green Economy and Climate Change); Niger: Ministère de l'Environnement et du Développement Durable (Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development)
Overall term: 2015 to 2023

Lions in Pendjari Park. Photo: GIZ/Horst Oebel


The W National Park is named after a w-shaped course of the River Niger. Together with the adjacent Arly and Pendjari nature reserves, it constitutes the W-Arly-Pendjari region (WAP region), which covers an area of over 30,000 square kilometres in Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger. The WAP region is the largest contiguous savannah conservation area in West Africa. The significant populations of wild animals, the size of the diverse savannah and the wetlands rich in species are of global interest. Since 2017, the WAP region has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, since 2020, as a transboundary biosphere reserve, part of the UNESCO network Man and the Biosphere (MAB).

Internationally organised poaching activities, along with poorly regulated cross-border transhumance, are two factors increasingly placing the WAP region’s unique biodiversity at risk. The weaknesses of the current protection system are being exacerbated by the difficult security situation, growing pressure from the population and the noticeable change in climate. The governments of Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger are not yet able to handle the tasks of transboundary management in the region on their own. A partnership with the private sector supported by all three governments has been implemented in Benin with African Parks Network (APN), for example, which has led to significant improvements at national level.


The general conditions for sustainable nature reserve management in the WAP region are improved in the governments and communities involved.


The project supports the partner ministries, their nature conservation authorities and their civil partners in the three countries with the aim of improving the protection of the WAP region. The cooperation focuses on joint efforts to guarantee the integrity of the World Heritage Site, mobilise funds and alleviate the poverty of the local population, which is to be involved in the management of the protected areas and obtain economic benefits as a result. To this end, the project promotes and develops value chains, and has been providing additional support to reforestation and restoration measures since mid-2020. The three countries seek to further optimise and expand joint management systems for the national parks, which are in the process of being established, with a focus on combating poaching, eco-monitoring and further developing tourism. 



  • A total of 109,108 participants have been trained in producing and processing in sustainable value chains (honey, shea butter, sesame, desert date oil, moringa, soya cheese, vegetable cultivation) through the ‘train the trainer’ programme. In terms of the overall number of participants, particular success has been achieved in propagating, growing and processing mung beans (18,905 participants) and baobab leaves (22,639 participants). 
  • With the help of local non-governmental organisations, 10,000 school students have improved their environmental awareness.

Last revised: 1 October 2020

Additional information