Our history

Wetlands International Africa was established in West Africa in 1998 with Dakar as its regional office. Wetlands International Africa's history in the African region can be divided in three major distinct phases where Wetlands International Africa evolved from a sub regional program essentially focused in West Africa to a continental organization.

First phase, 1998-2004:

Wetlands International Africa focused on the major ecological zones of the sub region producing valuable scientific publications on West African wetlands including the Sahelian floodplains, West African sea board, Mangrove and rice growing fields, and Coastal wetlands of the Gulf of Guinea.

Second phase, 2004-2007:

During the second phase, community livelihoods became central to Wetlands International Africa’s work as recognition of the services that wetland ecosystems provide to communities grew. WIA also expanded its geographic span with interventions in East Africa, in Kenya and Uganda notably.

Wetlands International’s work provided the foundations and direction for negotiations under Ramsar Convention, Convention on Migratory species amongst others.

Third phase, 2008+:

Wetlands International Africa transitioned into an Africa-wide program. It added a new policy dimension to its interventions with a stronger focus on regional, continental and global advocacy. It also focused on improving the quality of its work as well as the effectiveness of project management.

Wetlands International Africa and its partners have made great strides in wetland wise use and conservation. Specific projects included:

  • the West African Mangrove Initiative; Important Bird Area Protection in Guinea Bissau;
  • Wings over Wetlands; West African Manatee Conservation Program;
  • Pilot Project for sustainable coastal zone management in Sierra Leone;
  • BIOMAC (West African Marine and Coastal Biodiversity Network);
  • Wetlands and Poverty Reduction Project; Wetlands and Livelihoods Project;
  • and Enhanced the role of wetlands in integrated water resources management for twinned river basins in EU, Africa and South America in support of EU Water initiatives (Wetwin) 

Global history

Our global organisation Wetlands International has been involved with wetland protection since 1954. The organisation changed it’s name to Wetlands International after a fusion of three regional organisations in 1995.

Wetlands International started its activities in 1954. In those days, we were called the International Wildfowl Inquiry and our focus was on the protection of waterbirds. Later, our name became International Waterfowl & Wetlands Research Bureau (IWRB). In time, our scope became wider; besides waterbirds, we also started to work on the protection of wetland areas.

Merging organisations

Later, organisations with similar objectives emerged in Asia and the Americas: the Asian Wetland Bureau (AWB) (initiated as INTERWADER in 1983) and Wetlands for the Americas (WA) (initiated in 1989). In 1991, these three organisations started to work closely together. 

In 1995, the working relation developed into a  global organisation now known as Wetlands International. Read more