Nigeria seeks $14b to revive Lake Chad, rehabilitate communities
FOLLOWING the dwindling fortunes of the Sahel area, Nigeria has appealed to the G7 and the United States for financial assistance to meet the high technological expertise and infrastructure needed to revive the Lake Chad.
President Muhammadu Buhari who spoke at the Africa Renewable and Adapation/Loss and Damage Initiative hosted by the Committee of the African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) as part of the on-going UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21), disclosed that $14 billion is urgently needed to revive the Lake Chad and save communities dependent on the lake from extinction.
The Lake Chad Replenishment Project has been proposed over a decade ago following sharp reduction in its size by over 93 per cent from 25,000 square kilometers in 1925 to barely 2,500 at present.
The dwindling lake is source of water to 70 million people in West Africa, mainly from Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger.
Research conducted by a professor in London University and published more than three decades ago had predicted that unless one or some of the rivers from the Central African region are diverted to empty into the Lake Chad basin, the river will dry up.
Buhari said the Federal Government welcomes the Lake Chad Development and Climate Resilience Plan, and the Lake Chad Basin Commission and international partners for designing this climate-based plan.
“In all, the experience of countries sharing the Lake Chad further illustrates the mutual challenge we face today and which must be collectively addressed without further delay. Regrettably, the world is leaving behind millions of people who depend on the lake for their survival.”
According to the President, the shrinkage of the lake had resulted in increased social conflicts, high rates of migration and cross border movements.
“Nigeria has a large population of over 170 million people and in some parts of Northern Nigeria, a farm that used to belong to 10 people now belongs to over 100 people. They have no other place to live and no land for cultivation,’’ he said.
In the event attended by French President, Francois Hollande, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and several African leaders,Buhari urged leaders from the developed countries to make revival of the Lake Chad a top priority.
Buhari also used the occasion to woo investors in the energy sector, especially the use of natural gas to boost the country’s energy needs. “Nigeria welcomes international partnerships and initiatives for lower carbon in the oil and gas sector that focuses on reducing natural gas flaring and capturing the product for commercial use,” he added.
Chairperson of the African Union, Dr. Nkosazana Zuma stated that Africa needs to drive an economy that is climate resilient, less carbon intensive , closes the energy deficit and reduces poverty.
She said the continent needs to strengthen its existing initiatives such as Climate Change Action in Africa and the Climate for Development in Africa Programme.
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