© Goulden Marisa
This case study examines interacting issues around climate variability, flooding and management of the Niger River by focusing on the Sélingué Dam in Mali and issues faced by the population settled near the dam. We examine the impact of a flooding event in 2001 and the responses to it. We also examine the effects of ongoing stresses related to climate extremes and variability, competition over access to land and water and efforts to resolve conflicts between farmers and pastoralists.
The Sélingué dam is located on the Sankarini River, a tributary of the Niger River. It was completed in 1981 for the purpose of hydropower production and irrigation, but also plays a role in flood control and navigation provision. In September 2001 the water level in the reservoir was already high in order to meet electricity demands, so the dam operators had to release water quickly from the dam to make space for an incoming flood, after a period of high rainfall upstream. They opened the dam gates with little warning to downstream farmers and communities in order to avoid damage to the dam. This resulted in extensive flooding and damage to downstream irrigated rice fields, crop lands and settlements. Flooding again caused damage to villages and crops in 2010, as a result of the heavy rainfall that was experienced across the Niger Basin.