Environmental and population problems surrounding the exploitation of Lake Chad and proposed solutions from a sustainable-development perspective

Semingar Ngaryamngaye, University of Montreal

Lake Chad, situated at the southern edge of the Sahara desert, between Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, had a surface area of about 25,000 square kilometers in 1960. However, the Lake Chad basin has been progressively drying up for decades and has shrunk today to an area of about 3,000 square kilometers. Several reasons have been advanced to explain this situation, such as the successive droughts of the 1970s and 1980s, population pressure, and global warming. According the the climate models of NASA, at the current rate, the lake could disappear within about 20 years. However, Lake Chad plays a very important socioeconomic role because it provides water to more than 30 million people in the 4 bordering countries. It accomodates the development, commerce, and agriculture of the populations along the water. The risk of the disappearance of protected species such as hippopotamus, crocodiles, tortoise, and several species of fish, adding to the diminished production capacity of the region, is a real concern. Soon, there will be neither water, nor fish, nor commerce. From a scientific point of view, there is no doubt. If we don’t act, the drying up of Lake Chad threatens the existence of the people living along the water and could lead to a humanitarian disaster for the region with the exacerbation of droughts and famines, not to mention the migration of populations, which will lead to conflicts and other unforseen consequences. This paper aims to present a range of solutions which could respond to the problems linked both to the disappearance of Lake Chad and to its population pressure from a sustainable-development perspective.

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Presented in Poster Session 2