The International Conference
on Lake Chad

Background

CONCEPT NOTE ON THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON LAKE CHAD 

BACKGROUND

The Lake Chad Basin which is shared by Algeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, and Sudan (see map attached as annex 1) is a large entity representing about 8% of the total size of the African continent, with a population estimated at 40 million inhabitants according to statistics of 2010. It is an essential water resource for fishermen, livestock farmers and farmers of the riparian countries most of them among the poorest in the world.   

Despite poverty and the security challenge in the Lake Chad basin area, this fresh water body is a source of water supply for drinking and a sound environment conducive to socio-economic development. It also offers a unique social and cultural environment contributing to the rich diversity of the region. Lake Chad riparian populations have their cultural values, beliefs and traditional practices shaped by their relationship with the natural environment and therefore influencing environmental sustainability. 

However, Lake Chad is facing a myriad of onerous challenges. In the sixties, its surface area was 25,000 km2 with about 135 species of fish and an annual production estimated at 200,000 tonnes. It was the epitome of productivity, food security and wealth to the people residing in the basin and beyond. In Chad alone, it was estimated that there were about 20,000 commercial fish sellers at the period. As of today, the lake is a source of insecurity, instability, and loss of livelihoods.

Prior to the drought, in the 1960s, the best grazing land was in the Sahel zone of the Lake Chad Basin. The Sahel was good for extensive herding as there was rarely conflict with crop farming and it was estimated that seven (7 ha) hectares of land could feed one Tropical Livestock Unit for six (6) months of the year. The drought led to the loss of pasture and the initiation of the transhumance migration towards the guinea savanna in the south of the basin.

Unfortunately, Lake Chad is experiencing variability in size due to both human pressure and adverse effects of climate change. Its size has reduced from 25,000km2 in the 60s to 2,500 km2 in 1985 due to the combined effects of climate change and the unsustainable water and natural resource management. However, in 2013, the surface area of Lake Chad has increased to 5,000 km2 following an exceptional improvement of the rainfall pattern.

A review of the hydrology of the Lake Chad Basin  shows that the wet years (before 1973) inflow averaged between 30 – 40 Km3 per annum, while the dry years (after 1974) inflow   averaged 20 - 21 Km3 per annum while the lowest was 16 Km3 recorded in 1984. The current Basin Water use as at 2011 is estimated at 2 Km3 per annum.

RESPONSE TO ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTER

Facing the increasing degradation of Lake Chad ecosystem, the respective Governments of LCBC’s member countries took the following major measures:  

The Heads of State and Government of the Lake Chad Basin at the 10th Summit held in N’djamena, Chad on 28 July 2000 agreed to mobilize six million ($6m) US dollars for the feasibility study of Inter Basin Water transfer from Ubangi River in Central African Republic to the Lake Chad. To this effect, Nigeria supported the study with a grant of $5m. The study has proven that the Inter Basin Water transfer is feasible, but it is capital intensive and a long term project. The study indicated that the lake inflow could be augmented by an additional 3.5 Km3 which could raise the annual inflow between 23.5 to 24.5 Km3.

Summit of LCBC Heads of State and Government held in N’Djamena, Chad on 30th April 2012. The plan had the following components: 

The implementation of the NAP has commenced in Nigeria where the riparian States of the Basin have taken up the challenge to address the current issues by setting up a Trust Fund to implement activities contained in the Catchment Management Plan of the Komadugu-Yobe Basin (KYB).

 

The Lake Chad basin has a huge and untapped socio-economic potential. These resources include the following: 

Despite all these measures, the major challenges facing the Lake Chad region remain. Hence, the need to organize an international conference with a view to reversing the trend.

THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON LAKE CHAD
Location: Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria.
Email: info@lcbconference2017.ng   Tel: +2348037033941