April 5, 2018 | Resource degradation

Why is Lake Chad shrinking? This is the question scientists around the globe have been asking. The lake is particularly important, it serves as the only water source for Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria making it an irreplaceable economic resource. The lake, which was once 25,000 square kilometers is now approximately 1,350 sq.km, that’s about 90% shrinkage.

Several factors are contributing to Lake Chad drying up. Climate change and overuse of water resources are the some of the main reasons for Lake Chad’s shrinkage but also, other factors, like poor environmental laws, improper irrigation practices and bad management are also key elements to consider when you think of the shrinkage of this lake.

This lake’s degradation has negatively impacted the lives of millions of people who are wholly dependent on it and is astounding even to the best scientists, who are actively trying to understand the cause of this massive problem. Most agree that Climate change is the main cause, its led to more droughts and less rainfall seeing the desert slowly begin to creep on this lake, killing the vegetation that once surrounded it.

The lake Chad crisis has now become of interest to the world bank which is looking to work with the Government to improve water management. Jonathan Kamkwalala, the Practice Manager for East and Southern Africa at the World Bank’s Water Global Practice, met with the Chadian government to try and chart the way forward for these uncertain waters.

The fact that the governments are not working together to avert a looming disaster for their nations is of particular concern since it puts millions of people at risk. The governments lack a cohesive management system for the lake, each country seems to take care of the part of the lake in their country in a separate way. The world bank is encouraging key stakeholders to work together and cooperate with the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) with the conviction that a collaborative effort is essential to hold this crisis at bay. 

The world bank believes that the combined effort between the LCBC and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will allow them to pool resources that would promote ecosystems management, community-based, small-scale climate change adaptation, and encourage sound and resilient underground water resource management in the agricultural and pastoral sectors. LCBC and GEF have begun discussions that they hope will help them begin important work that will see lake Chad restored to its former glory.

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