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Niger River, a vital heritage in danger

The Niger River, the main fluvial artery of West Africa, has been subject to pole pressure for several decades. new activities and uses, disrupting the characteristics, structure and functioning of its ecosystems. The water flow of this important heritage is seriously threatened by several factors including pollution, hydroelectric dams, vast irrigation systems and climate change. (Article CENOZO)

Sélingué, commune of Ouéléssébougou, 140 km from Bamako and near the Guinean border. Here, sand extraction in the Niger River has become, over the years, the main source of income for many households and employs various people. Every morning, they go to the river, equipped with canoes, paddles, ropes, gametes, shovels, small buckets…

Met on site when he was about to dive into the water, Boureima confided :  “To do this work, the One of us dives into the water with a bucket in hand. So, once we fill the canoe, the sand is unloaded at the edge of the river so that trucks can come and collect it to sell it in town. According to him, previously, sand was easily obtained at the edge of the river, but currently, you have to go deep, into the water. “The time we spend at the bottom of the water varies from 25 seconds to a minute to fill a bucket of sand,” he explains. < /p>

In Koulikoro, capital of the region bearing the same name, 59 km from Bamako, in the northeast, sand extraction is also one of the main economic activities of many residents. It is practiced by men, women and especially their children under 15 years old  to provide for the needs of their families. 

In this locality as in several others in Mali, the activity takes place without legal basis. Sidi, a sand operator, claims to have no documents authorizing him to do this work. However, he specifies that the town hall forces them to pay 15,000 FCFA on the basis of a direct agreement. Contacted by us, the deputy mayor of Koulikoro, Boureima Traoré, affirmed that the sand operators are grouped together in a coordination. For each truck filled, 750 FCFA are paid to it. 

The coordination, in turn, is required to pay 1,500,000 FCFA every 15 days to the town hall, or a monthly amount of 3,000,000 FCFA. According to the deputy mayor of Koulikoro, this commitment (which has no legal basis) is difficult to respect because there is a delay in payments. 

According to Maïmouna, who unloads the sand from the canoes, it is only recently that the inhabitants of Koulikoro began to take an interest in this sector. “Previously, most of the workers came from Bamako and other localities”, she confides. She justifies this situation by the lack of employment, endemic unemployment and poverty which affect the city's inhabitants. Same story for Fanta, who affirms that several people are now engaging in this practice “to earn their daily bread”.

“Here, in Koulikoro, life is not easy at all,”she said before revealing that with her advanced age, her task consists of“bringing together the remains of sand that the carters leave and sell them to other people for 750 CFA francs. Often, I can go 5 days without having this amount”. And Djeneba maintains that for his part, this work has allowed him to provide for the needs of his family, even if the income is no longer as important as in the past... Read read more here: "" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">here


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