Transboundary Cooperation on the Senegal-Mauritanian Aquifer Basin

4 Dec 2020 by Staff - Water Diplomat
DAKAR, Senegal

The second meeting of the Regional Working Group (RWG) for transboundary cooperation on the Senegal-Mauritanian Aquifer Basin (SMAB) convening on 1 and 2 December, outlined the main operational axis for the implementation of the vision of the programme.

In this region, transboundary cooperation is based on the integrated development of surface and groundwater resources using 50 years of experience in the cooperative management of the sub-region’s major rivers. Attendees were from Member States, the Organisation for the Development of the Gambia River (OMVG), and the Organisation for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS). The RWG supports and advises the Member States (The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, and Senegal) and the local transboundary basin organisations in their collective efforts of transboundary cooperation for concerted sustainable management of the SMAB.


The SMAB is vast, extending over approximately 1300 km with a surface area of 331,450 km2 and supporting an estimated population of over 15 million inhabitants. The basin’s resources are under considerable pressure due demands imposed by population growth, rapid urbanisation, and the development of agriculture.

Maintaining cooperation and sustainable management is essential to ensure overall political stability of the region, to ensure water security and to maintain equitable allocation and distribution of water resources for all participants. Improving management of the resources and communications with various stakeholders will contribute substantially to preventing conflicts between sectors and countries that depend on the water resources available in the basin.

This cooperation is strategically important for the region given the increased vulnerability to climate change

This December meeting built on project design and action plans completed since the first meeting in May 2020. Key discussions in this second meeting focused on the possible techniques and processes of transboundary cooperation in the regional dialogue among the four Member States that share the aquifer.

The exchanges were based on a set of preliminary study reports on hydrogeological, institutional and technical aspects. The design phase will end with the political validation of the transboundary cooperation proposals issued by the RWG and the launch of the joint project.

The meeting reinforced the commitment of the members, particularly given the universal constraints imposed by pandemic regulations and precautions. Preparatory work was completed and the group acknowledged the work of the Member States, OMVG and OMVS, and the financing partners.

The regional dialogue on SMAB is supported by Geneva Water Hub, the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, whose secretariat is serviced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), and the UNESCO Groundwater Resources Assessment Centre (IGRAC), with financial support from the Swiss Agency for Cooperation and the European Union.