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— W National Park Biodiversity Pilot Project

Technology:
Solar power
Key Objectives:

To promote the conservation of biodiversity and fight desertification while fulfilling the basic needs - such as safe drinking water, health care and rural electrification - of the populations living in the buffer and transition zones around the W National Park.

Location:
Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger
Status:
Completed in 2003

In 2003, the Partnership completed a demonstration project in the W National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. The project was conducted in collaboration with the three host countries - Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger - as well as with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the European Union (EU).

The project identified renewable energy supply systems that will promote the conservation of biodiversity in the core area of the park and fight desertification while fulfilling the basic needs - such as safe drinking water, health care and rural electrification - of the populations living in the buffer and transition zones around the park. A number of different installations and measures were implemented under this project, including:

  • Installing a solar pumping station in a remote village close to the W Park border in Benin, to replace a simple water hole and provide safe drinking water to the local community. Prior to the water pumping station, villagers spent several hours each day during the dry season carrying unsafe water from a remote water source to their village;
  • Installing a solar pumping station for Perelegou Pond in Niger to maintain a permanent water level all year round for wildlife and to strengthen biodiversity in the area;  

         
    Perelegou Pond (Niger) before and after the implementation of the Partnership’s project activities
  • Equipping ranger stations in Benin and Niger with solar systems for lighting, radio communications and safe drinking water, thus allowing year-round manning of stations, contributing to a decrease in poaching and an increase in ecotourism; and 
  • Installing solar panels in a dispensary in Tapoa Djera in Burkina Faso, for lighting, powering a medical refrigerator, radio communications, and to provide safe drinking water to patients, nurses and the local population. Solar panels also provide electricity to a hospital and a dispensary in Benin.

The feasibility study for the pilot project was completed in 2001 and the project began in the first semester of 2002. Construction works were completed in Niger in May, in Burkina Faso in July and in Benin by the end of 2003.

Repeated field visits were conducted from 1999 to 2003 to increase the awareness of villagers that maintaining the biosphere is beneficial to the human populations living nearby.

Management of the installations has been transferred to the local populations, who, through cooperatives based on traditional systems already in existence in West Africa, have taken over ownership of the equipment and installations and the responsibility for their operation and maintenance.

The project has resulted in direct job creation, increased eco-tourism within the region, improved health care and access to safe drinking water for populations in and around the W Park.

In 2006, a five-year maintenance and monitoring plan, funded by the European Union, was launched to ensure the preservation and sustainability of the project, under the administration of the W Park local project (ECOPAS).

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