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How to Stop the Decline of Lake Chad?

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Desertification threatens the village of Tantaverom. Mbo Malloumu has taken the initiative to plant acacias to rehabilitate the land. © Jean Damascene Hakuzimana/UNDP Chad

Just over 200 kilometres north of the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, Lake Chad is one of the oldest lakes in Africa. It supports nearly 30 million people living along its shores in Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger but also in other neighbouring countries.

However, since the early 1970s, the lake has lost 90 percent of its original surface area to unsustainable water management and climate change. The basin itself has shrunk from 25,000 square kilometres to 2,000 square kilometres.

"The lake has been declining for the past 50 years," says Ibrahim Alimi, a retired teacher from Tantaverom village in Chad. "It used to spread as far as the eye could see, now these areas are covered with sand."
Ibrahim Alimi, a retired teacher, remembers when the lake stretched across areas now covered in sand dunes.

Everywhere, the consequences of climate change are clearly visible: cattle carcasses on the roads, dusty skies, sand dunes and dry polders testify to the impact of successive droughts and the proximity of the Sahara Desert.

In addition, the shallow waters of the lake, at most seven metres deep, make it dependent on seasonal rains and very susceptible to evaporation.

Human pressure also contributes to the fragility of this unique ecosystem. The Boko Haram insurgency in northeastern Nigeria and neighbouring countries has displaced more than 2 million people and led to massive destruction of basic infrastructure, such as roads, medical centres and schools, as well as housing and farms.

For several millennia, the lake has supported communities established on the edge of the Sahara.

In the village of Liwa, firewood has become a precious resource.Women have mobilized to assist with the reforestation project.

Food security has deteriorated, with more than 7 million people facing the threat of famine and half a million children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It is estimated that in 2020, the number of people depending on the lake and its resources will reach 35 million.

Together with its partners, UNDP carries out development projects focusing on natural resource management and the rehabilitation of Lake Chad ecosystems.

Reforestation is one of the solutions supported by France, as part of the commitments made at COP 21 and COP 22 climate conferences.

Then Ministry of Ecology signed a US$1,7 million partnership agreement with UNDP to restore vegetation cover around the lake, support women's economic initiatives and help adapt agricultural practices to climate change.

Over 4,000 hectares will be planted with drought-tolerant seedlings on five vulnerable sites to protect the polders from silting. Nearly 40,000 acacia trees have already been planted at Merea, Liwa and Tantaverom sites.

In each of these pilot areas, the community elected a committee to oversee implementation and ensure the success of the project. Youth, women and men alike are involved on a daily basis to protect young plants and fight against the threat of desertification.

Mark It Down Paste or drag and drop rich content from a webpage or a text editor in the first box (no HTML tags should be visible), then press "Convert" to convert to Markdown. Agricultural kits valued at more than 80 million CFA francs (about US$140,000) have been donated by UNDP to more than 400 households around the lake to boost community food production and fight poverty.

"The women of the lake are farmers by nature," says Respa Bevia, from the liaison and information unit of the Women's Associations of Bol. "These kits will strengthen their capacities and contribute to reducing food insecurity in the region." REMOVE TEXT In the near future, livelihoods and reintegration activities will be put in place to prevent violent extremism and radicalization through a multiyear Integrated Regional Stabilization project. The project is funded by the German Government and coordinated out of UNDP offices in Abuja and Maiduguri in Nigeria, with presence in the other three countries bordering the lake. It is estimated that about 4.8 million people will benefit directly and indirectly from the implementation of the project. Convert to markdown Clear

Agricultural kits valued at more than 80 million CFA francs (about US$140,000) have been donated by UNDP to more than 400 households around the lake to boost community food production and fight poverty.

"The women of the lake are farmers by nature," says Respa Bevia, from the liaison and information unit of the Women's Associations of Bol. "These kits will strengthen their capacities and contribute to reducing food insecurity in the region."

In the near future, livelihoods and reintegration activities will be put in place to prevent violent extremism and radicalization through a multiyear Integrated Regional Stabilization project. The project is funded by the German Government and coordinated out of UNDP offices in Abuja and Maiduguri in Nigeria, with presence in the other three countries bordering the lake. It is estimated that about 4.8 million people will benefit directly and indirectly from the implementation of the project.