Located in Western Africa the Niger River starts in the highlands of Guinea threading eastwards mainly through Mali, Niger and Nigeria before entering the Gulf of Guinea to the Atlantic Ocean. Its unusual crescent shape takes it inland towards the Sahara before turning south west to the Gulf. Along its route the river hydrology changes from its rain fed headwater it loses flow and volume as it nears the Sahara where it forms an inland delta. The inland delta is an area of high evaporation that is composed of a number of slow moving channels. Only after the Benue River, joins the river in Nigeria does it become a large river once more. The large delta of the Niger River contributes 7.5% to Nigeria’s land mass.
Ten countries form part of the river Basin, and flow is somewhat controlled by dams which provide water for irrigation and hydropower. Because the river is an important source of freshwater in this arid region, a coherent management agreement is needed between the riparian nations.