This Day (Lagos)

7 June 2012

Chad: Lake Chad Shrinks From 25,000 to 2,000 Kilometres Square

The water surface of the Lake Chad basin has gradually shifted since the 1960s from 25,000 kilometres square to less than 2,000 kilometres square as at today, largely due to climate change, population increase and water demand.

Minister of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe, disclosed this while marking the 'Lake Chad Day' in Abuja, where she called for concerted efforts to save the lake and restore its dwindling fortunes.

Lake Chad is believed to host over 100 million inhabitants, out of which 50 million are Nigerians whose livelihoods are now threatened due to the drying up of the lake, she explained.

She said: "The causes of this severe shrinkage include not only climate change which is responsible for the decrease in rainfall pattern in the region and runoff from the Lake's tributaries, but also water demands for agricultural activities and other human needs.

"This population is expected to grow and it is also a known fact the population solely depends on the natural resources of the lake and the region is suffering from a high poverty rate," she added.

She lamented that if the situation was not addressed would affect wildlife and the economy of the states sharing its resources as well as encourage insecurity and conflicts over scarce resources.

House committee Chairman on Lake Chad, Abubakar Wambai, sadly noted that the lake Chad only retains 5 per cent of its original size; hence the need to urgently carry out an earlier planned inter-basin water transfer from River Congo through the Chari/Ubangi rivers as part of efforts to resuscitate and rescue the Lake from completely drying up.

"The parliamentarians as the voice of the people will remain steadfast and re-strategise to embark on a sensitisation campaign both within and beyond Nigeria to ensure the survival of the Lake," he assured.

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