Water Resources Management and Hydraulic Infrastructures in the Senegal River Basin: The Case Study of Senegal, Mali and Mauritania

Water Resources Management and Hydraulic Infrastructures in the Senegal River Basin: The Case Study of Senegal, Mali and Mauritania


Cheikh Faye

Submitted: February 21st, 2022 Reviewed: May 31st, 2022 Published: February 22nd, 2023

DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.105633


River Basin ManagementUnder a Changing ClimateEdited by Ram L. Ray


River Basin Management

Edited by Ram L. Ray, Dionysia G. Panagoulia and Nimal Shantha Abeysingha

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The water resources of the Sahelian countries bordering the Senegal River basin (Senegal, Mali and Mauritania) are limited and unevenly distributed. To overcome the unequal distribution of water resources and to manage floods and droughts in the Senegal River Basin, hydraulic infrastructures have been built in the Senegal River Basin, starting with the Manantali dam. The paper reviews the current water storage capacity in the Senegalese, Malian and Mauritanian parts of the Senegal River Basin from a sustainable water resources management perspective. Data from the Manantali dam and from the water resources of the downstream countries (Mali, Senegal and Mauritania) in the Senegal River basin were employed to assess water storage capacity at country level in this basin. Water storage capacity was found to be lowest in the Mauritanian part and highest in the Malian part. These results led to the conclusion that despite the OMVS based heavy investment in the infrastructure of water storage capacity there is both need and potential for infrastructure increase. As the Senegal River Basin is a transboundary case the riparian countries sharing in order to promote integrated water resources management at the basin level, need to continue to develop additional storage to underpin and modernize the responsible use of water resources through the construction of other multifunctional water infrastructure.

1. Introduction

Infrastructures are defined as “networks that enable the movement of goods, people or ideas and allow their exchange in space” [1]. The speed and direction of movement is influenced by their topology and physical form and from this point of view infrastructures are technological objects. Water distribution systems can be defined “as networks connecting water from rivers, lakes and storage sites to homes, farmers’ fields irrigation systems and factory outlets empowering water’s economic and social functions” [2].

The construction of dams is often linked to state policies seeking to meet the needs of populations. Among these needs, the multiplication of the number of structures is caused by regional development, increased access to drinking water and electricity, flood-fighting and irrigation development. Half of the world’s rivers have at least one dam, and hydroelectric power plants produce more than 50% of the electricity consumed in a third of the world’s countries [3].

Dams are works that block a section of a valley over the entire width and create a basin in a geological way and thus they usually are considered to be barriers. Its origin may be natural or catastrophic e.g., land slides or avalanches, or it can be the result of a disorganization of the river network with a change in the geomorphological system e.g., moranic or glacial dam. A dam is a project, and hence it has a pre-determined lifecycle after which it may end up being filled, or else by yielding, undermined by the infiltration waters.

Dams are the subject of many claims by members of civil society. The latter often criticize manufacturers and decision-makers for a lack of consideration towards them, a lack of transparency, and unfulfilled promises. From these concerns that animate the populations arise demands, forces to fight against dam projects accused of the flooding of forests, the acidity of water, the sterilization of agricultural land, and expropriations. These infrastructures also include the links between these machines that allow them to function as a system, as well as techniques of organization—companies, accounting, bureaucracies, etc. [4]. These infrastructures, of course, exist in society, and often embody, reflect and, in turn, shape their political, economic and social environment [2].

However, water is considered to be an economic good and is classified as a necessity [56] and the economic motives for an increase of agricultural/meat production via building dams are as below.

As seen above, if in-country production increases substantially Mauritania an Mali have a chance at a zero/positive BoP and Senegal could halve its negative BoP (Figures 14).

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