20 September 2017

Central Africa: Fights Over Water Worsening Lake Chad Conflict

Maiduguri — REPEATED conflicts among nationals of different countries over control of the remaining water in the drying Lake Chad are worsening insecurity in the terror-prone region.

Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria surround the Lake Chad Basin, which is considered one of the worst conflict zones in Africa. The area faces multiple challenges to regional security. The lake itself is struggling with ecological challenges in the form of drought and dwindling water supplies. It has shrunk by as much as 95 percent from 1963 but provides water to more than 68 million people in these countries.

The impact of the drying lake is causing tensions among communities with Cameroonians and Nigerians in Darak village, constantly fight over the water.

Nigerians claim to be the first settlers in the village, while Cameroonians invoke nationalistic sentiments, since the village is within Cameroonian territory. Fishermen are also demanding that farmers and herdsmen to cease diverting lake water to their farmlands and livestock. The United Nations is concerned that such conflicts over resources are giving rise to more instability through the interstate crime. The conflicts coincide with the Boko Haram continuing to be a challenge to stability in the region. At least 130 attacks are attributed to the Islamic militants in the Lake Chad Basin. "Poverty, weak state authority, insecurity and climate change explain this situation, with women and girls being the first victims," said Jeffrey Feltman, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs. Overall, the Boko Haram has killed over 20 000 civilians over the past eight years during a violent campaign to establish an Islamist state in Nigeria.

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