Authors: Abhijit Mohanty, Kieran Robson, Samuel Ngueping, Swayam Sampurna Nanda
Affiliated organisation: DownToEarth
Site of publication: downtoearth.org
Type of publication: Article
Date of publication: 23 February 2021
One of Africa’s largest freshwater bodies, the Lake Chad, has shrunk by 90 per cent. Over 10 million people across the region are in need of emergency assistance. The United Nations has termed the Lake Chad crisis as “one of the worst in the world”. For years, the lake has been supporting drinking water, irrigation, fishing, livestock and economic activity for over 30 million people in the region.
Climate change: A looming peril
The ever-changing climate has dramatically worsened the situation, amplifying food and nutritional insecurity in the region. Temperature is rising one-and-a-half times faster than the global average. The seasonal and inter-rainfall patterns have been drastically changing each year. This has triggered food insecurity, ultimately pushing communities into the arms of terrorist groups.
We need to recharge the lake with water. There should be robust and integrated management of water resources at the national and regional levels in the affected countries
Locals are facing challenges to sustain their lives – their ability to adapt to climate change is diminishing. If rain failed, people often move to other suitable locations to farm or graze their herds, but due to heavy military restriction as a part of counter-insurgency efforts, these options are no longer available. This is a great setback to the inherent ability of the people to deal with climate change and its effects.
Researchers working in the Lake Chad Basin have highlighted a range of factors feeding the region’s instability. These include persistence economic crisis; divisive reforms; poor governance; rising inequality and bourgeoning corruption among the ruling political elite.
Countries of the Lake Chad basin are among the 10 least peaceful countries in Africa, according to 2020 Global Terrorism Index report.
Boko Haram is one of the top insurgent groups with a strong foothold in the region. The conflict has displaced nearly 2.5 million people across the neighboring countries. Boko Haram controls large swathes of territory, including key access roads. For humanitarian workers reaching the areas, plane or helicopter is expensive and at times risky.
Competition over scarce resources
The depleting natural resources and grazing lands in the region has increased conflict between farmers and pastoralists. Cattle rustling, for instance is one of the major criminal activities in the area. Armed groups often resort to it as additional means of raising fund in support of their operations.
Countries of the Lake Chad basin are among the 10 least peaceful countries in Africa, according to 2020 Global Terrorism Index report
Worsening humanitarian situation
More than 37,500 people were killed in the conflict between May 2011 and July 31, 2020. Since 2009, more than 49 million people have been deprived of attaining their livelihoods in fishing, livestock rearing and agriculture. Over three million people were food insecure according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Half-a-million children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. One in every two people needs humanitarian assistance.
Dos and don’ts
There is a need to reach out to the rebel groups and initiate participatory way of planning and executing peacebuilding programme.
Providing sustainable solutions to deep-rooted challenges require sustained engagement.
On the contrary, conventional peacebuilding effort is of course never enough unless we incorporate and strategically address the interconnected issues of conflict and climate change.
“We need to recharge the lake with water. There should be robust and integrated management of water resources at the national and regional levels in the affected countries,” said Nja Beltin Tekuh, a conservationist working with Environment and Rural Development Foundation, Cameroon.
There is a need to reach out to the rebel groups and initiate participatory way of planning and executing peacebuilding programme
To translate this on ground, the UN Security Council and other peacebuilding agencies should integrate the linkages of environmental, social and political issues in their peacebuilding efforts.
“The lake has always been a source of resilience,” said Joelle Aimee Wadjiho, who is associated with INTERSOS, an international humanitarian organisation in Cameroon. Lake Chad has all the potential to revive and flourish as an engine for sustainable livelihoods and prosperity. And it is pressing time to revive the unique identity of Lake Chad and its people, once had.
Les Wathinotes sont soit des résumés de publications sélectionnées par WATHI, conformes aux résumés originaux, soit des versions modifiées des résumés originaux, soit des extraits choisis par WATHI compte tenu de leur pertinence par rapport au thème du Débat. Lorsque les publications et leurs résumés ne sont disponibles qu’en français ou en anglais, WATHI se charge de la traduction des extraits choisis dans l’autre langue. Toutes les Wathinotes renvoient aux publications originales et intégrales qui ne sont pas hébergées par le site de WATHI, et sont destinées à promouvoir la lecture de ces documents, fruit du travail de recherche d’universitaires et d’experts.
The Wathinotes are either original abstracts of publications selected by WATHI, modified original summaries or publication quotes selected for their relevance for the theme of the Debate. When publications and abstracts are only available either in French or in English, the translation is done by WATHI. All the Wathinotes link to the original and integral publications that are not hosted on the WATHI website. WATHI participates to the promotion of these documents that have been written by university professors and experts.