"The river is very, very important in the life
of the [capital] city. It gives us fish to eat and
sell, water to drink, a place to wash and do laundry,
and a means of transport. We could not live without
Niger is one of the great rivers of Africa. It stretches
over 2,500 miles in a long arc running from Guinea
to Mali, right up to the edge of the Sahara, before
turning south to the sea. Mali sits at the top of
this arc, where the river opens into a massive,
fertile, inland delta, where the water spreads out.
Niger is Malis life blood. It provides food,
drinking water, and water for farming. Its
also one of the main means of getting around in
Mali. In fact it is the only way of getting to some
of the more remote places. The river is also vital
to traders for transporting crops and goods. During
the months when the water is high (between August
and November), large boats can travel along the
river. Smaller and slower vessels also offer river
passage, including pirogues, a type of canoe.
enormous length of the Niger means that journeys
over land in Mali often involve a river crossing.
In some areas, this event has become a part of tradition.
For example, when their animals are brought back
across the Niger from distant grazing lands, the
Fulani people in Diafarabé celebrate with a cattle
cities like Bamako, the capital, have sprung up
alongside the river, reliant on what it provides.
Ways of life also depend directly on the Niger.
Fishing offers a livelihood to thousands of people,
but it can be a hard way to make ends meet.
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