Abuja — President Muhammadu Buhari will in February next year, host a three-day international conference tagged: 'Saving the Lake Chad' in Abuja.
The conference will include a one-day high level meeting between February 26 and 28, 2018 by presidents and heads of governments of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Libya.
A statement by Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said the conference would revitalise the basin's ecosystem for sustainable livelihood, security and development.
According to him, this is the first time an international conference on Lake Chad would be held among the six-member countries of the region.
He listed the key partners hosting the conference to include: Nigeria, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and relevant donors including the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank and the governments of Germany, China, Canada and the European Union (EU).
The statement further said the main objective of the international conference is the drive to create global awareness on the socio-economic and environmental challenges arising from the shrinkage of the Lake Chad, threat to livelihoods including insecurity with a view to developing a comprehensive programme of action to save the lake from extinction.
It also said the conference would discuss and develop a consensus on different options intended to restore Lake Chad, including the Inter-Basin Water Transfer project from the Ubangi River in Central Africa to the Lake Chad.
According to the statement, experts, researchers and resource persons will exchange knowledge and share information on water resources development and management in a crisis environment and to garner political and financial support for the restoration option identified for the restoration of the lake.
"Among the expected outcomes of the conference is a roadmap for the implementation of the recommendations of the conference that should lead to the restoration of the lake; restoration of fishing and irrigated farming as a way of alleviating poverty, strengthening climate resilience in the basin, creating employment, leading to reduction of terrorist activities and increasing the revenue of the population and that of the Lake Chad basin countries.
"The lake Chad Basin, which is shared by Algeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and the Sudan is about eight per cent of the size of the African continent, with a population of about 40 million inhabitants.
"Its surface area has shrunk from 25,000 square kilometers to just 2,500 sq.kms, roughly 10 per cent of its original size. This development has adversely affected the economic, social and cultural environment of the area. As at today, the lake is a source of insecurity, instability, and the loss of livelihoods.
"Since coming to office, President Buhari has used every available speaking opportunity at the international level to raise awareness of the need for action to save the Lake Chad," the statement added.