Lake Chad region, a looming disaster –Engr. Sanusi Abdullahi
The Lake Chad region harbors the world’s largest humanitarian crisis with no fewer than seven million displaced people and about 2 million depending on humanitarian assistance.
The region also leads in global poverty and birth rates, the Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, Engr. Sanusi Imran Abdullahi yesterday told a packed audience of participants, resource persons and donor agencies at the on-going International Conference on Saving the Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria.
He disclosed that the basin is presently plagued by increasing population; undergoing severe droughts, famine, water distribution problems, human and animal diseases, leading to increasing migration of the local population.
Engr. Abdullahi also fingered incessant migration for conflicts aggravated by social, cultural, economic and religious differences among and between ethnic groups. Indeed, he noted that the changed which occurred in the last 54 years in the Lake Chad Basin were aggravated by global climate change and amplified by accelerated population growth leading to violent insurgency and the migration of African youth to Europe.
He said the initial plan to salvage Lake Chad basin was submitted and approved by former President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1984. Owing to prevailing severe drought, the idea was replaced by the plan to transfer water from River Ubangi to Lake Chad. The pre-feasibility study of the Ubangi-Lake Chad Inter Basin Water Transfer was estimated at $6 million.
Going down memory lane, Engr Abdullahi disclosed that CIMA International of Canada, which conducted a study between 2009 and 2011, advised that the inter basin water transfer project was technically feasible and economically viable, which would lead to the increase of the water level of the lake by one metre in both the north and south basins. Also it would increase the size of the lake by approximately 5,500 square km over a period of 5 years, with $14.5 billion estimate and was endorsed by the 14th Summit of Head of States and Government of the LCBC in 2012.
He said that the installation of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 has brought new opportunities to discover a long term solution and $1.8 million financial support from the Chinese government. Among other measures taken is the gathering of all stakeholders from the AU, ECOWAS, ECCAS, EAC, CICOS, LCBC and international partners to share and exchange ideas on the restoration of Lake Chad and the promotion of African peace, security, development and integration.