by Vanesa Martin
The Lake Chad Basin Commission was established in the 1960’s by four member states—Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Cameroon–for the purpose of maintaining the ecosystem and managing the resources of the area, specifically the precious resource of water. The land in the vicinity of the lake was green and fertile, and for years, fishermen made a living off of the diverse catch they could reliably obtain from the depths.
Global warming and insecurity rooted in violence have changed this narrative, however. Droughts have become more severe, extensive, and frequent, to the point where the basin has begun to dry up at a crippling rate. The plummeting water levels have had drastic effects on the surrounding communities, with many fishermen beginning to resort to a livelihood that Niger’s poor soil is not fit for—agriculture. However, even agriculture relies largely on water, and Niger has seen scant harvests in recent years. Furthermore, the ongoing barrage of attacks from militant insurgent group Boko Haram have forced many to flee their homes, causing the largest case of displacement currently seen in the African continent. The refugees arrive without water, food, or medicine, and it is not only costly to distribute the necessary aid to them. This influx of people has also begun to put a new strain on the lake and its decreasing water levels.
Nevertheless, the Lake Chad Water Charter signed by the Lake Chad Basin Commission is a step in the right direction. With wisdom of foresight, the member states declared that equitable management of water and food resources would be a top prority because security is impossible if these basic needs are not met.
Hopefully, with international support for those suffering at the hands of armed conflict and a hotter and drier climate, these consequences can be mitigated. The drilling of more wells will also be essential for alleviating the strain on the lake. Contribute to Wells Bring Hope to see more long-lasting and immediate change happen in this region.