West Africa is characterised by very large hydrological systems flowing considerably from wet tropical regions to arid or semi-arid regions. Transboundary water resources account for 80% of surface water in these regions. This situation results into high sub regional interdependence, hence the potential conflicts among riparian countries. Though transboundary basin organisations provide a framework for water resources management beyond national borders, large hydraulic infrastructures projects often involve several countries thus creating a potential for conflicts. Such projects should also be designed taking into consideration factors that will have in the medium and long term, a strong impact on water resources and their uses: climate change and climate variability, demography and population dynamics, increase in agricultural commodity prices, energy development etc.

Through its Water Resources Coordination Centre (WRCC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has launched a project known as « Consultation on large infrastructures projects in the water sector in the ECOWAS zone» in close collaboration with ECOWAS divisions in charge of energy, agriculture and environment in a bid to support IWRM in transboundary river basins and promote regional integration in the water sector. IUCN through its Central and West Africa Programme (PACO) has been admitted in the steering committee of this project supported by the Union.

The present project aims at contributing to the harmonious development of West Africa and regional integration through the implementation of a water sector infrastructures dialogue.

The specific objectives are the following:

  • To come to an agreement between basin organisations and member states on consultation mechanisms and priority development and regional integration facilities
  • To assess and debate the impacts of infrastructures on regional integration
  • To implement the ECOWAS diplomatic set up in support of priority projects and find  solutions for the infrastructures that generate adverse impacts or risks of conflict, including a dialogue with development partners