The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has designated the Senegal River Delta as a pilot site for its project “Strengthening expertise south of the Sahara on water birds and their rational use for the benefit of communities and their environment” (Resource).
In accordance with its mission, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) wants to strengthen food security through the sustainable management of existing resources around the Sahara Desert. It is in this respect that the UN agency has chosen the Senegal River delta for the implementation of its project “Strengthening expertise south of the Sahara on water birds and their rational use in favor of communities and their environment” (Resource).
This initiative aims to improve the state of natural resources in the large Sahelian wetlands for the benefit of local populations. In the case of the Senegal River delta, the FAO wants to improve knowledge about the water birds that abound in this wetland, by strengthening national capacities for monitoring their populations and studying the sampling and use of these birds.
Preserving the natural habitat of waterfowl
“The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary (in Saint-Louis, northern Senegal) is a natural jewel known worldwide for the fantastic spectacle offered to visitors by the thousands of water birds that live there. But the delta’s wetlands are under great pressure. There is intense competition for water and arable land resources in the delta,” said Bruno Portier, coordinator of FAO’s Resource Project, at a recent press briefing in the Senegalese capital Dakar.
The FAO wants to support the preservation of the natural habitat of these birds, which are threatened by pollution and the exploitation of land for agriculture, particularly rice cultivation. Situated in the Senegal River delta, the Djoudj National Bird Park is the crossing point for more than 3 million migratory birds divided into 350 species, in particular the pink flamingo, the white pelican, four species of egrets, the Gambian goose and the grey heron. The wetland is also home to many species of ducks, including stumps, pintails and teals.
A project implemented in several other wetlands
In addition to the Senegal River delta, the project “Strengthening expertise south of the Sahara on water birds and their rational use for the benefit of communities and their environment” is also being implemented in the inland delta of the Niger River in Mali, the Lake Chad basin and the Nile delta and valley in Egypt.
It is implemented in partnership with the governments of the countries concerned and other technical partners such as the Office National de la Chasse et de la Faune Sauvage (ONCFS) of France, the Centre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD) and the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Water birds. The “Resource” project also receives support from the French Global Environment Facility (FFEM).
Jean Marie Takouleu