Group launches en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­able pro­gramme in schools Need to re­store re­ced­ing Lake Chad Basin

Daily Trust - - ENVIRONMENT - By Chidimma C. Okeke

The en­vi­ron­men­tal sit­u­a­tion in Lake Chad Basin in North-east of the coun­try has been de­scribed as hor­ri­ble due to the dusty, fierce and un­re­lent­ing wind which wilt plants and turn the earth into sand dunes.

The lives of herders, fisher folk and farm­ers are tee­ter­ing on the edge as the lake dries up be­fore their eyes, a re­port has stated.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, veg­e­ta­tion and wa­ter, the tra­di­tional sta­ples of liveli­hood for the Lake Chad com­mu­nity dwellers, are van­ish­ing. Vul­tures feast on dead cows as drought and de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion take their toll.

The UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO) de­picts the sit­u­a­tion as an “eco­log­i­cal catas­tro­phe,” pre­dict­ing that the lake could dis­ap­pear this century.

FAO Di­rec­tor of Land and Wa­ter, Parviz Koohafkan, then noted that the Lake Chad basin was one of the most im­por­tant agri­cul­tural her­itage sites in the world, pro­vid­ing a life­line to nearly 30 mil­lion people in four coun­tries — Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

Lake Chad Basin was once Africa’s largest wa­ter reser­voir in the Sa­hel re­gion, it is fed mainly by the Chari River through the Lagone trib­u­tary, which used to pro­vide 90 per cent of its wa­ter.

The dis­cov­ery by ex­perts that the Lake Chad Basin which cov­ered about 25,000 sq kilo­me­tres in 1964, has re­duced to only about 1, 500 sq kilo­me­tres presently, thereby re­sult­ing into loss in such means of liveli­hood as fish­ing, farm­ing and other eco­nomic and so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties within the Lake Chad Basin for over thirty mil­lion people who de­pended on it for their liveli­hoods, there­fore call for con­cerns.

The lake’s re­ced­ing wa­ters, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, was as a re­sult of cli­mate change and other nat­u­ral causes which in­clude re­duced rain­fall, high evap­o­ra­tion, West Africa’s dis­as­trous Sa­he­lian drought and hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties. The im­pact of the dry­ing lake is caus­ing ten­sion among com­mu­ni­ties around Lake Chad which have re­sorted to re­peated con­flicts among

... Nigeria con­trib­utes $5mil­lion

na­tion­als of dif­fer­ent coun­tries over con­trol of the re­main­ing wa­ter.

As a re­sult, sev­eral meet­ings have been held to dis­cuss how to re­vive the re­ced­ing Lake Chad. Ac­cord­ing to UNICEF re­port, In Oc­to­ber 2010, a meet­ing of the Lake Chad Basin Com­mis­sion was held in N’Dja­mena, Chad’s cap­i­tal. The meet­ing which was at­tended by lead­ers from neigh­bour­ing coun­tries re­sorted to give high pri­or­ity to pre­serv­ing what is left of the lake.

Also, it states that in De­cem­ber, in­ter­na­tional ex­perts met in Cancun, Mex­ico to work on global agree­ments in re­sponse to cli­mate change. The people who live near Lake Chad hope these dis­tant de­bates will trans­late into poli­cies that pre­serve their en­vi­ron­ment, pro­vide them with safe wa­ter and en­sure they have al­ter­na­tive liveli­hoods for their chil­dren’s fu­ture.

Al­haji Sanusi Ab­dul­lahi, Ex­ec­u­tive Sec­re­tary, Lake Chad Basin Com­mis­sion (LCBC) said $14.5 bil­lion was needed for the trans­fer of wa­ter from Ubangi River, the largest right bank trib­u­tary of the Congo River in the Cen­tral African Repub­lic, to Lake Chad

How­ever, he said some key is­sues such as en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact and oth­ers needed to be ad­dressed be­fore the com­mence­ment of the wa­ter trans­fer.

“From the stud­ies con­ducted, we have seen that the wa­ter trans­fer is tech­ni­cally fea­si­ble and eco­nom­i­cally vi­able but cer­tain fun­da­men­tal is­sues need to be ad­dressed be­fore the trans­fer can be­gin,” he added.

The Min­is­ter for Wa­ter Re­sources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe, said last year that lead­ers of the Lake Chad Basin Com­mis­sion have re­newed the call for in­ter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity in line with fund­ing of a 5-year in­vest­ment plan aimed at sav­ing Lake Chad.

The Lake Chad Basin Com­mis­sion mem­ber - coun­tries which com­prises of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Cen­tral Africa Repub­lic and Libya re­newed their ef­forts to­wards re­vi­tal­is­ing the shrink­ing Lake Chad Basin.

It could be re­called that dur­ing the meet­ing, the Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Aminu Waziri Tam­buwal said that the com­mit­tee was es­tab­lished in 2004 and re-in­au­gu­rated in 2013 in Ni­amey, Niger Repub­lic to cre­ate part­ner­ship ven­tures to­wards de­vel­op­ing the en­tire Lake Chad and its ecosys­tem.

He said: “Our com­mit­tee was es­tab­lished with clear man­dates to­wards sup­port­ing the LCBC as the sub-re­gional body re­spon­si­ble for the in­te­grated man­age­ment of the Lake Chad Basin re­sources in par­tic­u­lar and fa­cil­i­tat­ing re­gional peace, co­op­er­a­tion and se­cu­rity in the basin ar­eas. I wish to as­sure all and sundry that our com­mit­tee and all the leg­isla­tive arms of the LCBC mem­ber-coun­tries are fully com­mit­ted to these ob­jec­tives.”

He added that the com­mit­tee would work closely with Pres­i­dents and Heads of Gov­ern­ments of LCBC coun­tries, the Com­mis­sion­ers of LCBC as well as its ex­ec­u­tive sec­re­tariat in ad­dress­ing the nat­u­ral and man-made chal­lenges fac­ing the Lake Chad Basin.

The need to ad­dress the overuse and abuse of wa­ter sup­ply that is re­spon­si­ble for the shrink­ing of the lake be­came nec­es­sary as mem­ber states of the Lake Chad basin came up with a wa­ter char­ter.

The Federal Govern­ment re­cently an­nounced the con­tri­bu­tion of the sum of $5mil­lion for fea­si­bil­ity study to­wards restor­ing the Lake Chad which has re­ceded from about 25, 000 square kilo­me­ters, 55years ago to about 2,500 kilo­me­ters at present.

The amount for fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies will be used for Wa­ter Trans­fer from Cen­tral Africa Repub­lic (C.A.R) to the Lake.

This was con­tained in a state­ment signed by Chief Press Sec­re­tary at the Federal Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­sources, Mrs. Boade Aki­nola, and made avail­able to Daily Trust.

Ac­cord­ing to the state­ment, Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan an­nounced this at Round­table Donors Con­fer­ence for restora­tion of Lake Chad Basin or­gan­ised by Africa De­vel­op­ment Bank (ADB) in part­ner­ship with Mem­ber States in Italy over the weekend.

The pres­i­dent who was rep­re­sented at the con­fer­ence by the Min­is­ter of Wa­ter Re­sources, Mrs. Sarah Reng Ochekpe said that the Donors’ Con­fer­ence was or­gan­ised to source for fund for the five year in­vest­ment plan and for the prepa­ra­tion to­wards the In­ter Wa­ter Trans­fer to re­sus­ci­tate Lake Chad.

He ex­plained that the re­ced­ing of Lake Chad has im­pacted neg­a­tively on agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion, pas­toral and fish­ery ac­tiv­i­ties, con­sti­tut­ing huge threat to the econ­omy of over 30 mil­lion people liv­ing within the catch­ment area.

He added that safe­guard­ing the Lake Chad for the ben­e­fit of mil­lions of people would im­pact pos­i­tively on poverty re­duc­tion in the re­gion, trans­late to sav­ing the liveli­hood of the people of the re­gion, re­duce in­se­cu­rity, im­prove wa­ter­ways nav­i­ga­tion, boost com­mu­ni­ca­tion and also in­crease agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion in the re­gion.

The pres­i­dent said that the Fiveyear In­vest­ment Plan in­cludes five ac­tiv­i­ties that would cost a to­tal sum of 925,809,802 Eu­ros, for the de­vel­op­ment of so­cio eco­nomic in­fra­struc­ture, con­ser­va­tion of the ecosys­tem, restora­tion and pro­tec­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources, ca­pac­ity build­ing and the in­volve­ment of stake­hold­ers in the In­te­grated Wa­ter Re­sources Man­age­ment, and Sus­tain­able use of wa­ter re­sources and restora­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment and thus as­sured that Nigeria would con­tinue to sup­port the pro­gramme to­wards restora­tion of Lake Chad Basin.

“Nigeria reaf­firms its firm com­mit­ment and sup­port to Lake Chad Basin Com­mis­sion (LCBC) and Mem­ber States to­wards the re­al­iza­tion of all iden­ti­fied pro­grammes that serve to ad­dress the chal­lenges of the re­ced­ing Lake Chad and thus im­prove the liv­ing stan­dard of pop­u­la­tion within the Basin” he said.

PHOTO: SANI MAIKATANGA

A boy fetch­ing wa­ter from a river at Tiga vil­lage in Kano re­cently.

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