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The Niger River is the third longest river in Africa that flows from the highlands of Guinea and passes through the arid zones of the Sahelian region in Mali and Niger, before flowing into Nigeria and the Niger Delta into the Atlantic Ocean. About one-third of the river, 1,060 miles, passes through Mali. The river supports fisheries and water for agriculture and household use. The river provides habitat for millions of migratory waterbirds. Mali’s capital city of Bamako, with a population of 1.8 million, straddles the Niger River and its many tributaries. Sadly, due to wild urbanization, most of the city’s household and industrial waste ends up in the river. Polluting industries include dyeing, tanning, gold mining, and agriculture. The river is also threatened by hydropower dams and climate change. The Bamako Niger River Waterkeeper will work with local and indigenous communities dependent on the river people and authorities to create synergy and actions to ensure clean and safe water in the region.
Sounkalo Dembele is the Executive Director of Bamako Niger River Guardians, a Waterkeeper Alliance Affiliate, sponsored by his NGO, SchoolNet Mali. Sounkalo is an educator and community organizer and has managed projects on water monitoring with veterinary students and Youth Groups from Rotary clubs. Sounkalo has managed a USAID technology project for teachers and students and diverse cultural exchanges for environmental education. Born and raised in Bamako, Sounkalo pays particular attention to adapting training resources to the needs of the local population. As a community organizer, Sounkalo has worked with Rotary International to implement clean environmental practices. As a Rotarian, he has helped to build community gardens and create sustainable, community-maintained water distribution systems.
SchoolNetMali Mokoya Juru