The Centre for African Wetlands (CAW) was established in 2000 as a sub-regional initiative covering 12 West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Senegal). The Centre is hosted by the University of Ghana and the initial funding for its establishment was provided by the Royal Netherlands government.
The mandate of CAW is to promote sustainable wetland management through research (ecological, socio-economic and policy), capacity building, information dissemination, networking, advocacy and policy support. Its ultimate goal is to contribute to the preservation of the global, sub-regional, national and local values of West African wetlands for:
- the benefit of society as a whole,
- improving the quality of life for people living within and around wetlands,
- maintaining wetland biodiversity and enhancing the general ecological integrity of wetlands.
The Centre’s programme is guided by the recognition of wetlands as valuable and multi-faceted assets that must be managed effectively to ensure sustainability, and currently focuses on six main areas, namely:
- Training and capacity development (wetland science, wetland research and management planning; water resources management)
- Wetland Inventory and Classification (mapping; hydrology and biodiversity);
- Long term wetland assessment and monitoring (focusing on ecological character, indicators and wetland values);
- Climate Change (impacts, adaptation & mitigation, wetlands and food security);
- Pollution/Degradation (biological & chemical pollutants, invasive and exotic plant species; watersheds degradation; wetlands and health);
- Conservation and utilization (local livelihoods; ecotourism; traditional knowledge systems; wetland laws and policy);
The Centre is registered as a non-governmental regional organisation and has its office facilities on the University of Ghana campus, comprising of 12 offices, a laboratory, a library and conference facilities, including an auditorium and three meeting rooms. CAW has eleven core staff and a number of Fellows who provide a range of expertise in all aspects of wetlands science and water resources management. The CAW governance structure is composed of a five-member International Management Board and a local Management team headed by the Founder and Chair of the Board.
The CAW is currently the only indigenous sub-regional organisation in West Africa that was set up purposely for the management and conservation of wetlands.