The Mékrou River Basin is a sub-basin of the wider Niger River Basin, and covers an area of 10,635 km2 or about 3% of the total Niger River Basin area. The transboundary Mékrou River Basin is distributed across Benin (80%), Burkina Faso (10%) and Niger (10%). It is characterized by underdeveloped infrastructures and weak socioeconomic conditions. Due to water scarcity, there are emerging risks of local and transboundary water conflicts, which may constrain the region’s economic growth. However, practices of transboundary water cooperation are also emerging, which support regional integration as a driver of growth. In this context, Benin and Niger have signed a cooperation agreement for the construction of the Dyodyonga Dam on the Mékrou River. In the Mékrou River Basin, arable land is mainly used for food production and for raising cattle. Agriculture is the key sector of the economy in the three riparian countries, and is critical for poverty alleviation and for food security. The Mékrou River Basin also includes a very important transboundary natural park, the “W Park”.

The water resources of the Mékrou River are used in several ways, such as domestic consumption, crop irrigation, animal production, fishing and fish farming, recreation and religious practices. In the transboundary basin of the Mékrou River, the need for clean drinking water in 2014 is estimated at 3,106,242 m3 (1,957,358 m3 for urban areas and 1,148,884 m3 for rural areas), serving a total population of 280,000 inhabitants. The main pressures on water resources come from production activities, which include activities related to agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forests, hunting, mining, industry and energy.

To address the issue of growth and poverty reduction in the Mékrou transboundary river basin (Burkina Faso, Benin and Niger), a cooperation project has been set involving the Joint Research Centre Institute for Environment and Sustainability of the European Commission and Global Water Partnership West Africa. Within the framework of an integrated river basin management, the Mékrou project takes into account all factors relevant to quality and availability of water resources (hydrological, ecological, and socio-economic) in order to achieve sustainability for the case-study area.

Achieving sustainable development in the Mékrou river basin are prerequisites that we will conclude with economic development scenarios by using the water resources in such a way that it secures the conservation of the river ecosystems, promotes sustainable economic activities (e.g. more efficient agricultural crops) and adapts to the social and cultural characteristics of the local population.

The overall objective of this annual report is to present and analyze the scientific framework, tools and output that JRC has developed during the second project year (January 2015-December 2015). In this context, Section 2 presents the general scientific basis, followed by the technical methodological framework. Section 3 analyzes the specific project actions implemented by JRC, as well as includes a summary of the so far available data and the justification of the implemented actions according to the Technical Annex of the project. Section 4 refers to the implementation issues, particularly related to the implementation strategy of future actions, organization and management issues, as well as the cooperation framework with local stakeholders. Moreover, section 5 provides the JRC planning of project actions for the following two years, 2016 and 2017.