| ||The source of the Niger River—at 2,600 mi (4,184 km) the third longest waterway in Africa—is in the highlands of Fouta Djallon in Guinea. It crosses nine countries and flows into the Atlantic Ocean through a vast delta in Nigeria. More than 110 million people live along its banks, trading, fishing, farming, and raising livestock, conforming to the rhythm of the floods that come from August to January. But the decrease in rainfall recorded since 1970 has resulted in the silting of the great waterway; waste and plant debris are becoming concentrated and the river’s rate of flow is diminishing. Since 1980, the governments of the nine countries through which it runs have joined forces as the Niger Basin Authority (NBA) to save the river and avert environmental and economic disaster by managing its restoration and utilization, a welcome initiative at a time when the sharing of transnational waters has become a source of tension between many countries. But the Niger River’s situation remains worrisome. In June 2008, the NBA announced that it feared the worst for the years to come. Because of strong demographic growth (3 percent annually) and the massive influx of “environmental refugees,” the basin’s population should double by 2025.
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