The Challenges of Post-Dam Environmental and Economic Rehabilitation in the Senegal River Valley,

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Abstract. During the 1980s and 1990s, the Senegal River Basin Authority and its member states (Senegal, Mali, and Mauritania) invested some two billion dollars in two massive dams, thousands of irrigation schemes, and a large hydroelectric plant. These debt-financed investments left the Valley's two million villagers with heavy costs and few benefits. The dams desiccated the environmental base for flood-recession farming, fishing, and livestock rearing. The economic viability of the irrigation schemes built to replace flood recession agriculture was all but destroyed by structural adjustment and free trade policies. With the local economy devastated, donors have turned to hydroelectricity to service the massive debts taken to developĀ the Valley. Electricity's water needs, however, compete directly with the environmental flows needed to support what remains of pre-dam ecosystems. The paper traces the role of international institutions in creating the Valley's economic and environmental situation and then reviews three local and international experiences that offer ideas for communities working to rebuild their livelihoods.