27 Jun Stéphanie Duvail
Posted at 20:01h
Dr. Stéphanie Duvail is a geographer with the French Institute of Research for Development (IRD). Her research deals primarily with wetland management, with a special interest in the impacts of large dams on the ecosystems and livelihoods of coastal wetlands and their potential restoration through managed flood releases. She has extensive experience with multi-disciplinary and participatory research. Her PhD focused on a wetland restoration project in Mauritania (Diawling National Park). In 2002-2003 she participated in an EU project that aimed at modelling lagoons in Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. From 2003 to 2008 she led an IRD research programme on East African deltas. From 2008 to 2011, she is coordinated a Land and Water project funded by the French Ministry of Environment in the Tana and Rufiji deltas on the link between floods and livelihoods, which expanded into a second phase (2011-2014) on the impacts of large scale agro-fuel projects. Since May 2016, she has been based at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris and is involved in the development of a research network on the deltas of the Western Indian Ocean.
Keynote presentation: The new large dam expansion in Africa and its potential impacts on downstream floodplains and deltas
Africa has known 3 phases of large infrastructure development. First, the colonial era. Then, in 1970s and 1980s development aid agencies and banks funded irrigation schemes and dams, often inspired by FAO approaches and the Tennessee Valley Authority model. In most cases, they ignored the specificities of the tropical ecosystems and socio-political contexts and resulted in negative socio-economical and environmental impacts, especially for the downstream floodplains and deltas.
After a pause in dam building in the 1990s and 2000s, a third large infrastructure expansion phase is currently underway in Africa but with even less stringent environmental and social safeguards. They are being sourced from new lenders (BRIC countries, Arab states, public-private partnerships), pushing traditional lending agencies to also lower their standards not to be outcompeted. The designs used are often those of the dams not built after the 1980s. They tend to be designed for hydropower production for rapidly growing urban centres, without managed flood releases for downstream ecosystems. It is essential to improve design and revise operations including involving downstream stakeholders. This presentation will be illustrated with examples from 3 river basins in Africa (Senegal, Rufiji, Tana).
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