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[ABIDJAN] The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has published a French version of its 'Africa Water Atlas', a compendium of maps, satellite images and 'before and after' images that reveals the vulnerability of the continent's water resources.

It was launched last month during World Water Week (21–28 August), in Sweden, where UNEP said that it would make a major contribution to the state of knowledge of water in Africa.

The atlas gathers information on water-related issues from 53 African countries and summarises progress made in those countries towards meeting the water provision target of the Millennium Development Goals.

The atlas contains more than 300 maps and satellite images, around 500 charts and hundreds of photographs.

It reveals, among other things, evidence of algal blooms in Lake Victoria; clouds formed by soil erosion and agricultural run-off in Uganda; pollution from oil spillages in the Niger Delta in Nigeria and a three-kilometre segment of the Nile Delta washed out by erosion.

It also describes success stories and new solutions in the field of water management in Africa, for example, the first detailed mapping of how the conservation of rainwater improves food security in drought-prone regions. Other examples include images revealing the positive impact of irrigation on food security projects in Kenya, Senegal and Sudan.

Sylvain Djouka, an underground water specialist and lecturer at the University of Abobo-Adjamé in Côte d'Ivoire, said: "The Atlas of Water in Africa will not only help to better assess the water situation in our various countries but will, above all, establish a good integrated management strategy for water —especially in trans-border basins".

The English version of the atlas was published during African Water Week in Ethiopia last year (22–26 November).

UNEP said on its website that it undertook the production of this atlas at the request of the African Ministers' Council on Water and in cooperation with the African Union, European Union, US Department of State, US Geological Survey and other collaborators.

Link to atlas  [38.9MB]