Lake Nokoué an oval shaped lake located in the very south of Benin and connected to the ocean via two channels: in the south via Cotonou channel, a 4.5 km long channel with a width of approximately 300 m, and the second connection to the ocean being a channel in the east that’s passing by the capital Porto-Novo and then heading to the coast in Nigeria. As the lake is relatively flat (0.4 - 3.4 m depth), the size of the lake varies within the seasons. In dry season it covers an area of approximately 160 km². At the edges of Lake Nokoué there can be found forests and swampy forests. Those and the vast marsh areas bordering the lake, which are covered by water for a few weeks every year, are flooded in rainy season and lead to a tripled size of the lake. The lake is mainly fed by Ouémé River in the lagoon of Porto-Novo in the east of the lake and Sô River in the north.
Lake Nokoué is very important to birds and therefore together with its temporarily inundated surroundings has been ranked as Ramsar Site in 2000. It is an important nesting site to many aquatic species. It houses vulnerable species and supports the population of animals and plants for the maintenance of biological diversity, as well as it serves as refuge and food source for some species.
In the narrow area between Lake Nokoué and the Atlantic Ocean, the country’s largest city Cotonou with about 700,000 inhabitants can be found. On the northern part of the lake, just at the mouth of Sô River, is the lake village Ganvié. With 20,000 people living here it is probably Africa’s biggest lake village and is therefore not only a UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Side, but also attracts a lot of tourists that are interested in the culture and ecology of the village and the lake. Apart from tourism the village’s most important economic activities changed from agriculture to fishing and fish farming.
Our partner Amis de l’Afrique Francophone-Bénin (AMAF-BENIN) is a humanitarian and development organization created in the year 2008 in Benin. It has as objectives to promote the education, develop approaches and create dialogue frameworks. In general, AMAF-BENIN wants to promote a healthy and productive life for the communities, especially for the poorest ones. This shall happen e.g. through ensuring the drinking water supply, sustainably managing humid and arid areas as well as the natural resources and strengthening the capacity of the population with the help of actions and advocacy.
To reach its vision of a Benin where the protection and conservation of wetlands, forests, biodiversity and the environment in general become a priority so that the elimination of the impoverishment of indigenous peoples and other dependent communities of forest, land and wetlands are also a reality, AMAF-BENIN works in the field of environmental protection and the sustainable use of natural resources. Also gender issues and the plight of deprived children, young people in difficulty and idle women are addressed.
The activity “Benin clean up” that AMAF-BENIN together with others executed at Lake Nokoué has mobilized a large segment of the population of Cotonou and the resident communities along the channel and Lake Nokoué for days of reflection and sanitation to rid the city, Cotonou lagoon and Lake Nokoué of household waste and other rubbish that produce toxic emissions in order to protect human health, aquatic wildlife and the environment. Furthermore, the activity was dedicated to raise awareness of local communities and groups of fishermen in Lake Nokoué at the adoption of sustainable behavior.