Central Africa sub-region is much endowed with natural water resources. The region is watered by the four largest watersheds of the continent. These include the Congo River basin, the Nile River basin, the Niger River basin, and Lake Chad basin. However, the overall utilisation rate of these resources is low and this, coupled with effects of climate fluctuations, unsustainable water projects, conflicts, lack of regulation and mismanagement, has increased food insecurity and worsened the livelihoods of the people. Besides, very few studies have reported on the relationship between forests and water resources in this region, but it is acknowledged that watershed forests play important role in the regulation of the stream flows, by absorbing water from high rainfalls and releasing it slowly through drier periods. Overall, there is a need to understand the interactions between forests and water in watersheds, to raise awareness and build capacity in forest hydrology, to develop institutional mechanisms to enhance synergies in forests and water issues, and to implement and enforce national and regional action programs.
As part of its contribution to managing the African forests sustainably, as well as generating and sharing knowledge and information for sustainable forest management, the African Forest Forum commissioned a study on the broad area of forest–water relations, covering the Sahelian region. The issues addressed in this study include: the extent of shared commitment to and desire to promote synergy and strengthen cooperation of the member states on water, water issues in the sub-region, water supply in the region as related to forest ecosystems, learning and sharing of experiences and best practices, potential for collaboration in managing and using water resources and related forest ecosystems in the sub-region. This was essentially a desk study primarily aimed at identifying the major water resources in the sub-region, how they are linked to various forest ecosystems that serve as water catchment forests, and challenges and opportunities in managing these forests to improve supply of quality water to the sub-region.
This report provides a modest initial step in this direction, by highlighting key aspects related to the link between these two resources, as well as some issues that could be addressed by various stakeholders including researchers, local communities and policy makers. It has been made possible through collaborative efforts of the African Forest Forum and Dr. Jean Lagarde Betti was responsible for writing this report.
Prof. Godwin Kowero Executive Secretary, African Forest Forum