Joint Management of the Senegal-Mauritanian Aquifer Basin: Review of the SMAS Project Inception Phase and Regional Working Group Meeting

The Regional Working Group (RWG) meeting for cooperation on the Senegalo-Mauritanian Aquifer Basin (SMAB), held on June 20-21, 2024, in Saly, Senegal, and via videoconference, aimed to review ongoing initiatives in the SMAB and the implementation of the Ministerial Declaration. This group comprises the four states sharing the basin (Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, and Senegal), regional organizations such as the Organization for the Development of the Gambia River (OMVG) and the Organization for the Development of the Senegal River (OMVS), and more recently, the Sahara and Sahel Observatory (OSS). The RWG's mandate is to promote transboundary cooperation and advise the SMAB states and Transboundary Basin Organizations (TBOs) on establishing a sustainable coordinated management mechanism for the basin.

In this context, a session dedicated to the progress of the inception phase of the project titled " Enhancing the sustainable management of Senegalo-Mauritanian Aquifer System to ensure access to water for populations facing climate change (SMAS)" submitted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and OSS to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), was held. The SMAS project will kick off soon, thus supporting the implementation of the Regional Working Group (RWG) program for cross-border cooperation on the Senegal-Mauritanian Aquifer Basin (SMAB).

Moderated by Ms. Fatou Mar, Director of the Land and Biodiversity Department at OSS, this session provided an opportunity for Mr. Mohamedou Sy, Director of the Water Department at OSS, to present an updated and detailed account of activities conducted over the past six months. The inception phase of the SMAS project aims to prepare its effective execution by considering recent changes, establishing execution arrangements, management, and monitoring tools, while ensuring project visibility. Plenary discussions allowed national and regional stakeholders to familiarize themselves with the project, adjust plans, and jointly define the next steps.

The in-person launch workshop for the SMAS project is scheduled for July 25-26, 2024, in Senegal. This launch will mark the beginning of concrete actions to strengthen the sustainable management of the SMAB and ensure equitable and sustainable access to water for local populations facing the challenges posed by climate change.