Don’t Destroy Livelihoods of Locals With Dam


Target: Catherine Signe Tovey, Team Leader and Senior Water Resources Specialist at the World Bank

Goal: Reevaluate the Fomi Dam design to focus on the future viability of downstream habitats.

The World Bank has revived a plan that would wreck havoc on poor locals and the surrounding ecosystem, which includes endangered animals. A longtime plan of the Guniean Government to dam West Africa’s longest river fell apart in the past over objections from Mali, where millions live off of the Inner Niger Delta wetlands. The team leader of the World Bank Niger River Basin Management Project must heed the devastating outcomes of previous dams and reevaluate how they can produce electricity and expand irrigation without obstructing the flow of the river for the millions that depend on it.

The proposed Fomi Dam will trap nutrients from reaching the vast Inner Delta, reducing the number of freshwater animals for commerce and sustenance. 300,000 people in the Inner Delta alone rely on fisheries for their livelihood. Dams also discharge nearly silt-less water which gouges out the riverbed below as it collects silt, deepening the riverbed and shrinking the extent of the floodplains.

According to a 2010 study by the Netherlands-based NGO Wetlands International, “water levels in the Inner Niger Delta will drop by another 45 cm if the Fomi Dam is built.” Decreased inundation of the wetlands endangers the last large breeding colonies of comorants, ibises, herons, and egrets in West Africa.

Additionally, the expansion of 210,000 hectares of downstream dry season irrigation would largely fall into the Office du Niger, an irrigation scheme of rice, sugarcane, and vegetable production where vast tracts are held by foreign investors. Do the benefits of hydroelectricity production and improved irrigation schemes near the dam outweigh the inevitable downstream damage? Sign below and demand that the poorest people on the Niger River aren’t ignored.


Dear Ms. Tovey,

I am concerned about the World Bank’s Fomi Dam Project on the Niger river. Hydroelectricity is a better alternative than oil, coal, or fuel wood. However, dams around the world disrupt natural ecosystems and fragment water basins. Consequently, delta resilience and biodiversity decline and lose their life-supporting qualities. Even under the best circumstances, the Fomi Dam is bound to help the farmers of the Office Du Niger and nearby energy users but ignore and propagate the plight of the people farther downstream.

According to the World Bank, demand for electricity is expected to rise from 30,00 GWh in 2003 to 117,000 GWh by 2020, however the Fomi Dam would generate only 90-100 MW. Could the Fomi Dam investments be used instead on Solar and Wind stations, increasing access to energy without disrupting the livelihoods of millions of people and countless ecosystems?

Dams are a hallmark of shortsighted, nature-illiterate infrastructure. They are developmental palliatives as evident by Zimbabwe’s crumbling Kariba Dam and the salmon-killing dams of the Pacific Northwest. I urge you to reconsider how best to use the World Bank’s resources to contribute to lasting prosperity.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Botev via Public Domain

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