Water and Mountains
Fouta Djallon Highlands Integrated Natural Resources Management Project
Project symbol: EP/INT/503/GEF
The Fouta Djallon Highlands (FDH) are a series of high plateaus concentrated in the central part of Guinea and extending into Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Senegal and Sierra Leone. This area is the point of origin of a number of transboundary rivers in West Africa, notably the Gambia, Niger and Senegal rivers, as well as a number of small water courses. Due to their geographic and climatic diversity, the highlands and the surrounding foothills support a rich variety of ecosystems.
While international recognition of the need for a more collaborative approach to the integrated management of FDH dates back to an International Soils Conference in 1959, a concerted action under the aegis of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union) was agreed upon only after the Sahelian drought in the early 1970s. With the assistance of UNEP, FAO, UNESCO and UNSO, the AU established since 1981 the Regional Program for the Integrated Development of the FDH (RPID-FDH), involving eight countries that depend on waters from the highlands: Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone.
Despite these efforts, the FDH natural resources continue to be under serious threat of degradation, resulting in accelerated reduction of vegetative cover; acceleration of soil erosion and reduction of soil fertility; loss of biodiversity; increase in water run-off, siltation and sedimentation of watercourses as well as drying up of springs.
The Fouta Djallon Highlands Integrated Natural Resources Management Project (FDH-INRM) has been developed and is implemented in the framework of the RPID-FDH. It is conceived as a 10-year project with two phases, a first phase of 4 years (GEF budget of US$5 million) and a second phase of 6 years (GEF resources earmarked for US$6 million).
Photo © Mika Huettner/ Flickr
The development objective of the project is to ensure the conservation and sustainable management of the FDH natural resources in a medium to long term time frame (until 2025) in order to improve the livelihoods of the rural population directly or indirectly connected to the FDH. The environmental objective of the project is to mitigate the causes and negative impacts of land degradation on the structural and functional integrity of the FDH ecosystems.
To achieve these objectives, the project is supporting activities in four different components as follows:
Component 1: Enhanced regional collaboration in the planning and implementation of natural resources management activities through support to the establishment of a regional legal and institutional framework; support to the adaptation, harmonization, dissemination and implementation of national laws and regulations; and setting up a regional observatory to assess and monitor the status of the FDH natural resources and trends in degradation.
Component 2: Improved natural resources management and livelihoods in the FDH through support to integrated management activities of the natural resources in the pilot sites and river basins; and identify and promote new income generating activities to improve the living conditions of the populations in the FDH.
Component 3: Increased stakeholder capacity in the integrated management of natural resources through training of local institutions, community based organizations and other stakeholders.
Component 4: Project management structures operational and effective, monitoring and evaluation system set up to measure outputs, outcomes and impact of the project, dissemination of information.
The “Fouta Djallon Highlands Integrated Natural Resources Management Project” has started a project document series with the first two publications now available. The first study “Trends in the hydrology of small watersheds in the Fouta Djallon Highlands” was conducted to investigate the reasons for the seasonal dry out of small rivers reported by multiple stakeholders in recent years. The second paper “Integration of climate change dimensions in the project activities” provides various entry points and links to climate change issues in the region and highlights the project’s potential to build resilience to climate variability and change among stakeholders and to ensure that field activities are climate-smart. Both publications area available in English and French and can be downloaded from the following links: