• Chapter

Regional profile Damming the Senegal River

A re gional ef fort to har ness the wa ters of
the Sene gal River for hy dropower, ir ri ga -
tion, and trans portation has re sulted in
profound en vironmental changes in the
river ba sin. These en vironmental changes
have, in turn, caused se vere health and
general wel fare prob lems for the river
basin’s resi dents. This case study il lus -
trates the com plex re lationships that can
unfold be tween peo ple and their en viron -
ment as so cie ties work to meet their
grow ing needs for en ergy, ag ri cul tural
production, and in dus trial de velopment.
Although many of the harm ful ef fects
were pre dicted be fore the proj ect be gan,
the pro ject’s pur ported bene fits—wa ter
storage for ir rigation, drought, and do -
mestic sup ply; elec tri cal power for ur ban
areas and in dus try; and a trans por ta tion
channel to the sea for land- locked
Mali—were deemed too im portant to
forgo. Now, years later, the river ba sin
management author ity, na tional min is -
tries in three ri par ian coun tries (Mali,
Mauritania, and Sene gal), and in terna -
tional agen cies fi nancing the proj ect are
try ing to miti gate some of the most se vere
problems as they con tinue work to re al ize
the pro ject’s po tential bene fits.


Brantly, E., & Ramsey, K. E. (1998). Regional profile: Damming the Senegal River. In World Resources 1998-99: A Guide to the Global Environment, Environmental Change and Human Health Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.