Buhari to host Lake Chad conference in bid to find ways to reverse its shrinking water levels

NIGERIA is to host an international conference aimed at saving the Lake Chad as part of a desperate attempt to reverse the growing shrinking of the waterhole which is facing a real threat of drying up.


Lake Chad's surface area has shrunk from 25,000 square km to just 2,500 sq km, roughly 10% 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 livelihood.


In a bid to address the problem, President Muhammadu Buhari will host a meeting of the Lake Chad Basin in Abuja, aimed at revitalising the basin’s ecosystem for sustainable livelihood, security and development. This is the first time an international conference on Lake Chad is being organised the six-member countries of the region.


Taking place between February 26 and 28, the three-day conference will consist of two days of technical sessions and one day of high level meetings. It is expected to have in attendance all of the presidents and heads of government of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Libya.


Key partners coming together to host the conference include Nigeria, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), the Lake Chad Basin Commission and relevant donors including the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the governments of Germany, China, Canada and the European Union. Specifically, the conference is expected to discuss and develop a consensus on the different options to restore Lake Chad, including the Inter-Basin Water Transfer project from the Ubangi River in Central Africa to the Lake Chad.


Also, the main objective of the international conference is to create global awareness on the socio-economic and environmental challenges arising from the shrinkage of the Lake Chad, the threat to livelihoods including insecurity with a view to developing a comprehensive program for action to save the lake from extinction. Experts, researchers and resource persons are expected to 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, the  restoration of fishing and irrigated farming as a way of alleviating poverty, strengthening climate resilience in the basin, creating employment, leading to a reduction of terrorist activities and increasing the revenue of the area. The Lake Chad Basin is about 8% of the size of the African continent, with a population of about 40m inhabitants.