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Aquatic plant proliferation is an environmental scourge. These weeds invade waterways and irrigation channels, impeding their economic operation. Fishermen have suffered rising costs, and farmers have to spend more time cleaning their irrigation canals, resulting in lost production and productivity.
Recognizing the importance of the fight against this scourge, the African Development Bank has responded positively to the request of member countries of ECOWAS, to fund a regional project on Integrated Management of Invasive Aquatic Weeds Project (IMIAWP).
The project, which started in 2007, aims to contribute to the fight against the proliferation of aquatic plants and minimise the residual impact of these weeds in four shared water bodies in West Africa. The scope of the project covers eight countries - Benin, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, Gambia, Ghana and Nigeria. The project consists of three components,( i) Integrated management of invasive aquatic weeds,(ii) capacity building, and( iii) project coordination.
In the implementation of project activities a participatory approach, emphasizing direct accountability of municipal committees, was adopted. An area of about 10,000 ha has been weeded from 50 sites, and the project has initiated a method for the use of biomass collected through the production of anaerobic and aerobic composting.
Approximately 800 producers were trained to master these techniques and on the use of compost on about 1,000 hectares of food crops and vegetables. The first observations show a marked improvement in the productivity of their land. In the context of biological control, the project, with technical assistance from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), has also identified three species of biological control agents of which 170 000 were released, and the process is being tracked.