The Disappearing Lake Chad and Buhari’s emergency call for action

Buhari orders review of 1920 report on Lake Chad
by Talatu Usman, Premium Times, August 4, 2015.
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed that a Lake Chad report submitted in 1920 be reviewed to salvage the lake from drying up, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Fatimah Mede, said Tuesday.
Lake Chad is largest lake in the Chad Basin, and is located mainly in the far west of Chad which shares a border with north-eastern Nigeria.
It is economically important, providing water to over 68 million people living in four countries surrounding it, namely, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria.
Ms. Mede told journalists that the president gave the directive following his concern that Lake Chad has receded from 33,000 square kilometres about two decades ago to just 300 square kilometres.
The president, Ms. Mede said, complained that the receding lake is adversely affecting the livelihood of those whose economic activities are directly linked to it.
“So he has directed that we should go and look at the report that was submitted in 1920 about how to prevent Lake Chad from drying up, so that the communities around, even border communities, including the countries benefitting from activities of fishermen and livelihood based on Lake Chad, are not affected.


Comments by DEPO ADENLE

Apparently the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment is not aware of the wealth of information that is available at the Ministry of Water Resources on the Lake Chad with respect to the Compacts and Agreements on the Chad Basin. (Nigeria is a member of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and has access to the library of this Commission).
If she had discussed with the Water Ministry she would have informed the President that what would be relevant at this time is not just the 1920 report but all literature and proposals on restoring the Lake.
During the time President Obasanjo, the proposal to transfer water from the Ubangui River in the Central African Republic to Lake Chad as a way of saving the Lake was prepared and reviewed by water experts in the Chad Transboundary Basin.
This blogger wrote an article – A Lake Today, a Puddle Tomorrow?: The Case of the Disappearing Chad – in a book edited by L. Jansky, M. Nakayama and J.I. Uito published by the United Nations University in Japan 2002. The article contains a review of what had been done as of that time as well as proposals for action.
Apart from the Ministry of Water Resources, the Lake Chad Basin Commission is a good repository of knowledge on how to salvage Lake Chad. What is needed now is action on the proposals that have been reviewed by water resources professionals in Nigeria and other riparian countries.



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