Thursday, May 1, 2008

Even though nothing (Western) works in Africa

Stories like this one from really give me hope. As in anything else, recognizing there's a problem is huge step #1. The doing, well, we'll see what comes of that.

Leaders Agree on Plan to Save Niger River

Summary: "Nine West African countries have agreed an $8bn, 20-year plan to save Africa's third-largest river, the Niger. The programme, which aims to prevent the river silting up completely, was approved at a meeting in Niamey, Niger. Since the 1980s, there has been a 55% fall in the river's flow, due mainly to climate change, industrial waste and problems caused by population growth."

When I was a kid living in Niger, I assumed the Niger River was limited just to "my" country. Years later I actually looked at it on the map and realized it is a massive waterway providing water, food and livelihood to millions of people in a bunch of nations. All I remember is crossing the Kennedy Bridge in Niamey (to reach the one good hotel) and seeing huge sandstone boulders when the water levels dropped in the dry season. I remember taking pirogue trips down the river with my family and classmates hunting for hippos. I remember camping out next to it for Girl Scouts and Middle School overnight trips under a sky so clear and devoid of light pollution the moon would have us cast shadows.

It's still "my" river in my mind, and news stories about trying to save it give me hope. Protecting the people starts with protecting our resources and it's good that the Niger is recognized for the life-giving properties it holds.

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