Experts gathered in Abuja on Monday to discuss ways to stop Africa’s Lake Chad from drying up, after years of environmental decline.
The two-day conference, organised by the Federal Government and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, aims to “save the lake from extinction”, according to UNESCO, which is backing the talks.
To combat the lake’s decline, a $6.5 million (€5.3) research and conservation programme, involving Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, whose borders meet on the lake, as well as the Central African Republic, has been set up.
Lake Chad is the principal source of freshwater for 40 million people but climate change and water mismanagement have contributed to a 90 percent decline of the lake’s surface over the past 40 years. This has severely hit livelihoods which depend on the lake.
As it dries up and hunger rises, the region has become fragile and Boko Haram jihadists have targeted subsistence farmers and fishermen to fill their ranks.
The ongoing Islamist insurgency has forced tens of thousands of people to cross borders in search of food and safety.
The UN estimates that more than two million people have been uprooted from their homes and 10.7 million are in need of food handouts to survive.
Troops from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria are fighting a battle against Boko Haram jihadists in the remote region.