30 January 2017

Chad: Nigeria, Chad Seek $50 Billion Aid to Recharge Shrinking Lake Chad

Photo: UNEP
Lake Chad was once the second-largest wetland in Africa, supporting a rich diversity of endemic animals and plant life. This image is from 1972 (file photo).

Nigeria and the Republic of Chad are seeking a $50 billion aid for the recharging and refilling of the drying Lake Chad.

The two countries have solicited the support of the African Union (AU) and international donors to raise the fund.

The two countries made the call at the Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) on the sidelines of the ongoing 28th AU Summit.

According to Nigeria's foreign affairs minister, Geoffrey Onyema, there was also an agreement by the two countries to have a formal international donor conference on recharging the lake, as well as having a direct engagement with possible sponsors.

The minister explained that the APRM, comprising 33 countries, was a self-monitoring policy through peer review system to ensure social, economic and political development among member states.

He added that in the peer review process, member states submit themselves to be reviewed by one another, adding that Nigeria had peer-reviewed the Republic of Chad.

Onyema further disclosed that the two issues that came up on the Chad review were the impact of the Boko Haram insurgency and the shrinking of the Lake, both of which adversely affected about 30 million people around the Lake Chad basin.

"We recognised the role that Chad (Republic) has been playing in the framework of the International Joint Task Force and we pointed out the impact of the Boko Haram on the task force.

"On the question of Lake Chad, we pointed out that the Lake had shrunk to about 10 per cent (of its original size) and has had catastrophic effects on the people living in that area, and the challenge is how to address such situation.

"I pointed out that what Nigeria is looking at in that context is the possibility of recharging the Lake from a river from Central Africa, the Rangin River," the minister stated.

He disclosed that Nigeria had already paid about $5million towards a study on recharging the lake, adding that it would cost about $15 million or more to do a comprehensive feasibility study on recharging of the Lake Chad.

"The cost of recharging is in the neighbourhood of $15billion to $20billion. I pointed out that we are looking at the possibility of organising an international donor conference to look for fund to address this issue.

"On the environmental impact and the negative aspect, the president of Chad, Idriss Deby, followed up with us and also elaborated on the issue, calling on the world to assist us in addressing the Lake Chad issue, because there is ecological issue; there is environmental issue; social issue and, of course, we have seen that we can also have illegal migration of the youth and also war within the area," the minster said.

He further noted that after the discussion, it was agreed that the best way forward was to have a formal international donor conference and that they were ready to engage directly with possible sponsors.

Nigeria Signs AU Convention On Cross Border Cooperation

Nigeria yesterday signed the African Union Convention on Cross Border Cooperation as part of the sideline events at the ongoing 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa.

The Niamey Convention, which was adopted in 2014, is to promote Cross-border Cooperation at local, sub-regional and regional levels with the aim of ensuring peaceful resolution of border disputes.

It is also to ensure effective and effective border management.

The minister of foreign affairs, Mr Godfery Onyema, who signed on behalf of the federal government, said the action was a demonstration of the country's commitment towards ensuring peace on the continent.

"We do so by signing this agreement to join the list of countries that have appended their signatures to the convention. Hopefully, we believe that as we appended our signature, the convention would soon come into force within the shortest period as possible and all these in the interest of member states.

"On the part of the Nigerian government, I would like to assure that we will do everything possible on our side to abide by the rule of this convention," he said.

He noted with satisfaction that the convention would help member states to settle boundary disputes, and that this would be done in a manner that shows fraternity and without any recourse to the use of force.

"This occasion also marks another mile stone in our efforts to reinforce, strengthen and support the African Union to move towards peace.

"As we say, once we stand united, Africa can achieve anything, but when we are divided, there is every chance that we will fall, so we will continue as a country to work for the progress of peace and stability on the African continent," he said.

Nigeria is the 11th country to sign the convention, which has been ratified by two countries so far.

In another development, the minister of state for foreign affairs, Hajia Khadija Bukar Ibrahim, has expressed optimism that Nigeria's election as the chairperson of AU Peace and Security Commission would be successful.

The event is scheduled to hold on January 30 (today).

She said the country had done its homework effectively in that regard and expressed satisfaction with the deliberations going on at the summit so far.

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