Niger Hydrological Cycle Observing System

Hydrology and Water Resources Programme

The Niger River is the third-longest river in Africa at 4 200 km and the fourteenth longest in the world, ranking 9th in terms of drainage basin size (2 170 500 km2, with an active watershed covering 1 500 000 km2).

The drainage catchment is located between latitude 28oN in Algeria and 4oN in the Gulf of Guinea, where it discharges into the Atlantic ocean.  From west to east, the basin ranges from longitude 11.5oW on the Fouta-Djalon plateau in Guinea to 15o East in Chad.

The Niger River starts in the Fouta-Djalon range in Guinea, a high plateau lying at an average altitude of 1 100 m. It flows north-east and during the wet season, forms a vast floodplain in Mali referred to as the Inner Delta or lake basin.

Beyond the Inner Delta the river forms a loop within Mali and continues to flow south-east towards Nigeria, where it merges with the Benue River and discharges into the Atlantic Ocean.

The geographical basin of the river, comprising of extensive desert zones, floodplains and swampland, is characterized by large valleys that are progressively drying up.

The active watershed of the Niger River is shared between nine West and Central African countries, namely Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger and Nigeria. The inactive basin essentially concerns Algeria, Mali and Niger.

Niger HYCOS is one of the first basin components formulated as a follow up to the AOC-HYCOS.

The project document was developed by WMO in collaboration with the French Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement (IRD). It was discussed and endorsed during a meeting of the HYDRONIGER Technical Committee in May 2002, Niamey. The Project Document was updated accordingly and finalized in November 2002.

The total cost of the Phase I of the project was € 5.3 million. The French Development Agency (AFD), within the framework of a € 10 million donation package to the Niger Basin Authority (NBA), supports the implementation of Niger HYCOS project with € 3 million.

This amount was completed by € 1.2 million from the African Water Facility (AWF), € 200 000 in kind from the IRD and € 900,000 in kind from NBA and participating countries.

The activities of the first phase of the Niger-HYCOS project, started in 2005, helped to set up a monitoring network of 105 hydrometric stations in the 9 countries of the basin. 

The first phase also provided hydrometric and computer equipment to NHS and the NBA, enabled technical capacity building for NHS and NBA staff, and organized sensitization workshops for the water stakeholders of the Niger Basin.

The phase also conducted a critical analysis of all hydrometric data in the NBA database, thereby promoting the revival of data exchange for transparent decision-making, which is critical for conflict management in transboundary rivers.

The second phase of the Niger-HYCOS project received a second AFD funding of € 3.4 million.  This phase consolidated the achievements of Phase 1 and promoted the use of life jackets for toddlers.

Besides enhancing technical capabilities, the training workshops organized in the framework of this project were particularly favourable to the establishment of solidarity and mutual trust and enabled the sharing of experiences between the technical teams of the participating countries. 

Training activities have therefore an added value in terms of sustainability that goes far beyond the project duration.

The third phase of the Niger-HYCOS project is envisaged, and its preparation is underway in the NBA. 

NBA is the Executing Agency and hosts the Project Regional Centre (PRC), WMO is the Supervising Agency, and IRD is a technical partner providing technical backstopping and a donor in kind. Agreements between NBA and all concerned parties have been finalized.

The project aims at reinforcing data observation and collection capacity of the NHSs and developing a hydrological information system in each country.

On a regional level it pursues the establishment of a regional information system to support the development of a forecasting system and other information products targeted for end users. A training component will strengthen the national and regional capabilities to implement and ensure sustainability of the project (see АНАЛИЗ ЭКСТРЕМАЛЬНЫХ ЗНАЧЕНИЙ).

A six-month preparatory phase of the project, for preparing a detailed implementation plan and relevant budget, was completed by organizing the first Steering Committee meeting in Niamey, in November 2005, where a detailed project document including budget and workplan was approved.

The implementation phase of the project started in January 2006. Procurement of hydrological equipment for reinforcing the observation and telecommunication network is being processed, including Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers, IT equipment and data bank software to support data management and information production for the regional centre and NHSs.

Four regional training courses were organized in 2005 and 2006. Another four are planned for 2007 and 2008.

Similar national training courses conducted by trained personnel have been arranged in the countries. Ambitious programmes to check the quality of historical data of stations along the Niger River and improve discharge forecasts were also launched in 2007.

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