Wetlands support millions of people around Africa. They include all areas that are permanently or frequently covered by water, and could be at the edge of a lake or the mouth of a river.
Wetlands offer a source of freshwater, fisheries, moist soil for farming and wild plants for food, construction and medicinal uses. They also help to control floods, maintain rivers in dry seasons, recharge groundwater and purify water.
But despite their importance, they remain among the most threatened ecosystems in the world. Between 1970 and 2015, inland and coastal wetlands both declined by about 35% globally. That’s three times the rate of global forest loss. This is a huge loss to important flora and fauna and a critical loss to the many people who relied on them for their livelihoods.
In Africa, three things contribute to the decline of wetlands: growing populations, economic development and climate change.