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International session n°6 - Navigation on the Senegal river

IFGR gathered its members in Saint-Louis and Dakar (Senegal) for its 6th international meeting. The event was hosted by The Senegal River Development Organisation (OMVS) and dedicated to the development of the navigation, which is one of its priority and strategic objectives.

Saint-Louis / Dakar le 09/04/2018

A basin management body that brings together Senegal, Mali, Mauritania and Guinea, the OMVS, founded in 1972, is an outstanding example of cross border cooperation.

 There, where water is a source of dispute, here, between us, it is a source of conciliation, integration and cooperation. A remarkable achievement, recalled Hamed Semega, its High Commissioner.

The OMVS was created in the wake of important droughts in the 1970s. Its purpose was to allow a better management of water, following three basic principles: the river and its tributaries are international property; their resources are exploited mutually and fairly; all the structures are the common property of the States. Cooperation and integration are therefore the two strong values of this intergovernmental organisation. The ultimate goal of the OMVS is to reach food self-sufficiency for local populations, boost economic development by using the river’s potential and insure an ecological balance in the basin.

In order to fulfil its ambition, the OMVS must however accomplish one of its missions: that of making the river navigable. Navigation thrived during the 1960s between Saint-Louis and Kayes, but stopped completely in the 1970s due to the combined effects of poor river bed maintenance and the great drought of 1973-1975. Today, the river is plied by only one tourist boat, the Bou El Mogdad.

The OMVS has worked on this navigation project ever since it was founded, carrying out many technical, environmental, economic and financial studies. It has now become one of the priority objectives of its agenda and the OMVS hopes to quickly start the first phase of its project to create a continuous and lasting navigable waterway of 905 km, between Saint-Louis (Senegal), at the estuary on the Atlantic coast, and Ambidedi (Mali).

By hosting the IFGR Committee on the African continent for the first time, the OMVS wanted to place its programme in perspective. It wished to gain from the experiences of other river management bodies around the world and their varied competences to ensure the full economic, environmental and societal success of its project and make it the driving force for developing the territories crossed by the river.

Mansour Faye, the Minister of Hydraulics and Mayor of Saint-Louis, emphasised the interest of this session, as Senegal is preparing to host the World Water Forum in 2021:

At a time when the effects of climatic change and pressure on water resources are increasing, I consider this multidimensional approach to be particularly relevant. I ask you to help us better understand the relations between the dimensions of the problem and provide the pertinent answers.

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