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Mali: water flows again

18-07-1996 News Release 96/28

On 10 July the ICRC completed the dredging of a canal linking Lake Faguibine to the Niger River in the Timbuktu area of northern Mali. The canal had become silted up as a result of successive droughts in the 1970s, and again in 1984 and 1985; this had drastically reduced the area of the lake, its alluvial banks and the land fertilized by the Niger floods. The 40,000 lakeside inhabitants, who lost most of their herds, will now have more land to grow grain and vegetables.

The month-long dredging operation, carried out by 200 workers, including 70 former combatants demobilized in 1995, will double the area of irrigated arable land, bringing it to 10,000 hectares. This achievement is all the more vital since thousands of people who used to live around the lake and were displaced by the conflict in northern Mali between 1990 and 1995 will be returning in a state of total destitution. Providing them with the conditions they need to regain self-sufficiency can only help maintain stability in the region.