Credit: Dominic Chavez

Cooperation in International Waters in Africa: Annual Report FY2018

Results by Project or Basin – ECOWAS


Shared information boosts riparian trust and confidence and forms the basis of transboundary cooperation.

OUTCOME AREA 2. Shared data, knowledge, and analytical tools enable timely, transparent, and regionally beneficial decision making.

Water Atlas: With CIWA support, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) completed the first Fouta Djallon Water Atlas in 2017. The Water Atlas fills previous knowledge gaps pertaining to the Guinean Highlands. The Atlas will be an important source of information for the main actors in the region, as it will contribute to improving global knowledge and support decision making in the frame of integrated water resources management. The first sections of the atlas present the physical properties of the Fouta Djallon highland and attempt to clarify the multiple definitions found in the literature. For this specific objective, the topographic contours of the Fouta Djallon hydrographic sub-basins were accurately delineated using results that had not been published before. This has been supplemented by a summary of land use and climate characteristics. The highland’s water resources are presented as an exhaustive synthesis of the hydrological regimes of the main rivers originating in the Fouta Djallon highland (Gambia, Niger, Senegal), based on current knowledge. The subsequent sections provide a view of the main human characteristics and water use in the Fouta Djallon highland, and related constraints, issues, or challenges that have been assessed or that will need special attention in the future.

The preparation of the Fouta Djallon Water Atlas has established an initial basis for sharing knowledge among countries and stakeholders interested in or dependent on water from the Highlands. The atlas content will be instrumental in the preparation of investments financed by the World Bank and other development partners in the region. The Guinea component of the Building Climate Resilience in the Niger Basin series of projects, which is centered on protecting the upstream portions of the river tributaries in the Niger part of the Fouta Djallon highland, will draw on the contents of the Atlas. The Atlas was presented at the World Water Forum in June 2018.


Effective regional and national institutions enable riparian states to manage shared risks and harness net benefits of cooperation.

OUTCOME AREA 1. Strengthened, adaptable, institutional structures enable robust water management amidst growing uncertainty due to climate change and competing demands for water.

Common Directive: With CIWA support, the Water Resources Coordination Center of ECOWAS led the validation process for the Directive on West African Shared Water Resources. Unanimously decided during an ECOWAS Conference of Heads of State in 2000, the directive was driven by a common desire of West African states to have a binding regional instrument for implementing the Regional Water Resources Policy (WARWP). The process of elaboration and validation of the directive started in 2013 and adoption of a participatory, consultative process across ECOWAS countries has resulted in gradual progress. CIWA supported two regional workshops to review the draft directive over which countries reviewed and improved text around adoption of integrated water resources management (IWRM) and also validated the directive in 2017. CIWA’s financial and technical support has allowed widened stakeholder consultations and integration of stakeholder concerns and priorities into the drafting of the text. Following adoption by countries, the directive forms a cornerstone in establishing and enabling a legal environment for the sustainable management of water resources at the regional level. The directive should help address the challenges in shared water resources management in the sub-region, including governance, notification and consultation, public information and participation, data and information sharing on transboundary water resources, and development of major water infrastructure, with due regard for the rights of the affected populations and protection of the environment.

OUTCOME AREA 2. Financially and institutionally sustainable regional organizations provide effective water management services to countries.

Financing Mechanisms: A CIWA-supported study by the Water Resources Coordination Centre of ECOWAS explored sustainable financing mechanisms for the Mono Basin Authority (MBA). Having established the MBA in 2014, Benin and Togo sought support from CIWA and ECOWAS to understand viable financing options for its effective and sustainable operationalization. The MBA is one of Africa’s newest, and among its smaller river basin organizations (RBO). A technical committee of experts from the MBA, along with ECOWAS and CIWA, concluded a study that examines the MBA’s functions and needs; identifies cost-saving approaches; evaluates potential financing mechanisms; and provides recommendations for short-, medium-, and long-term financing for the authority. The study was informed by regional experiences in smaller African RBOs (including Cestos, St. John, and Moa) as well as a number of larger African RBOs (including Volta, Niger, Congo, and Senegal). The study examined several financing mechanisms including Member State contributions, a dedicated regional tax, user fee-based financing, polluter fee-based financing, sale of data and services, project management fees for infrastructure projects, management and administration fees, dividends from an investment fund, donor contributions, and public-private partnerships (PPPs). It recommends the application of a small user-fee-based levy to the hydropower and mining sectors to allow a compact MBA to focus on priority functions and, most importantly, to function independently from member state contributions. This user fee would allow the MBA to reinforce its staff, provide knowledge products to the basin, and finance actions for IWRM. Pending review and decision by its Council of Ministers, the MBA is a step closer to adopting a financing strategy that allows the two small nations to operationalize this RBO for cooperative and peaceful decision making around the shared waters of the Mono River.

Benchmarking West African RBOs: A CIWA-financed benchmarking activity examined the roles of West African transboundary basin organizations (TBOs) in IWRM. The study found that, overall, TBOs have made – and continue to make – a very positive contribution to IWRM in the ECOWAS region. However, some IWRM functions – qualitative monitoring of water resources, gender promotion, and stakeholder participation in the decision-making process – were identified as having a relatively poor track record. The study clearly confirmed a high level of technical expertise with hydrological and allocation models. In the ECOWAS region, the coordination and collaboration role played by The Water Resources Coordination Centre (WRCC) brings an undeniable added value regarding IWRM implementation. This is because many water resources issues are transboundary issues and most of these issues are now addressed by referring to the IWRM principles promoted by WRCC. A template collaboration protocol was prepared that could be used by TBOs and the ECOWAS WRCC to formalize their collaboration. One of the main domains where ECOWAS can help is by facilitating structured exchanges of experience among TBOs and strengthening of some of their functions.