Grassroots conservation efforts in Senegal receive international award
The Association Inter-Villageoise (AIV Ndiaël) of northern Senegal was awarded the prestigious 2015 Conservation Award by the African Eurasian Waterbird Agreement (AEWA) today. Vogelbescherming Nederland (BirdLife in The Netherlands) and Wetlands International have supported the work of AIV Ndiaël and were present at the award ceremony.
AIV Ndiaël represents 32 communities and 20,000 people living in and around the Ndiaël Special Reserve wetlands in northwest Senegal, near the border with Mauritania. AIV Ndiaël has dedicated itself to both waterbird monitoring and wetland restoration activities to better sustain the future of people and nature in the Reserve. Today these efforts received international recognition by being awarded the triannual, AEWA institutional award. The award was presented at the AEWA Meeting of the Parties taking place in Bonn, Germany from 9 to 14 November.
The Ndiaël Reserve is listed as a Ramsar wetland of international importance, yet since 1990 it has been included on the list of sites under threat. In recent years, water diversions for agriculture along with droughts from a changing climate have completely dried out the wetlands at the core of the reserve. Thanks to the combined efforts AIV Ndiaël, supported by an international coalition of NGO’s, water is starting to flow into the Ndiaël for the first time in decades. This is critical for the local communities who depend on the wetlands for fishing and grazing. It is also an important site for waterbirds, many of which migrate from Europe.
Mr. Amadou Sow, president of the AIV Ndiaël, accepted the award and stated the following, “This international recognition will strengthen the position of the AIV in our future efforts for fair water distribution and sustainable land use. This is very welcome indeed, given recent large-scale agricultural developments around the floodplain.”
Wetlands International CEO Jane Madgwick offered her congratulations, “I warmly welcome the AEWA Conservation Award to the Association Inter-Villageoise du Ndiaël. The results of the hydrological restoration work of AIV Ndiaël, as part of a multi-stakeholder group, has helped waterbirds to return and given hope to local people who depend on the floodplain wetlands for their livelihoods. It is significant that this demonstration has triggered the investment of development funding. It shows the power of civil society to turn around the negative trends.”
Bernd de Bruijn of Vogelbescherming Nederland: “We congratulate the AIV with the award, which is well-deserved. We call on the government of Senegal and all parties involved to support the ongoing efforts and safeguard the Ndiaël floodplains for birds and people in the future.”
More on AIV Ndiaël
Through their waterbird monitoring, AIV Ndiaël now provides valuable data on the different species of birds and their numbers for the annual International Waterbird Census. They are also working to improve the land, excluding grazing from certain areas to allow trees to regenerate, reforesting with local species of trees, and learning how to use the products of these same species, such as fruits and nuts, for sustainable income generation.
The AIV Ndiaël project was supported by Vogelbescherming Nederland (BirdLife in The Netherlands), Wetlands International and Altenburg & Wymenga, with funding from the Nationale Postcode Loterij of the Netherlands and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.