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To recharge Lake Chad


Lake Chad. PHOTO:

The report that the Federal Government of Nigeria is considering cheaper options to recharge the drying Lake Chad raises questions about what alternatives are there for lake/wetland recharge that can practically be applied to the Lake.

The Lake is situated in a dry arid environment that is drought-prone and that is the critical factor that should be considered in whatever option is being considered best time and money are wasted.

The initial plan of inter-basin water transfer from the River Ubangi, the largest tributary of River Congo, running through the border of Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo has not been discarded.

That option, which resulted from detailed feasibility studies, has remained on the drawing board for a long time presumably due to lack of funds. Meanwhile, whatever alternative solution might be put forward would also require funding.

Unfortunately, the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LSBC) countries have been unable to move the project forward due to financial constraints. The other problem is geo-political resistance from the Congo basin countries, which fear that channeling huge water from the Congo River might worsen the drought situation in the basin area.

It is not surprising, therefore, that President Muhammadu Buhari has been championing the cause of the Lake Chad including seeking funding to implement different proposals. The critical importance of the Lake to the ecosystem and livelihood of millions of the riparian population cannot be overemphasized.

Truth is that in the absence of rainfall through which water bodies are recharged naturally by direct precipitation or through large-scale rainwater harvesting within the catchment area, there might be no method that would not require huge capital expenditure.

Already, the Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu is looking forward to a conference which he claimed would have to find solutions that could be cheaper than inter-basin water transfer even though he also said that a study has shown that it is technically feasible to transfer water from River Congo to Lake Chad to increase the level of the Lake.

The water would have to be sourced from the surface like the Congo River or underground from aquifers. In all cases, there is no easy way out and scientific information that does not come cheap is needed.

But finding water at the subterranean aquifer might serve as a relatively cheaper way to recharge the Lake.

Heads of State and governments of the Lake Chad Basin Commission are, happily, due to organize an international conference on the Lake Chad in Abuja this month to proffer lasting solutions and probably come up with a plan on how to save the Lake.

The proposed conference would not be the first to be held on Lake Chad even though nothing come out of such Summit.

Early in 2017, donors at a UN-backed conference on Lake Chad in Oslo Norway pledged $670 million mainly to support aid operations in the region. The UN involvement is, indeed, indicative of global interest in the lake and its importance to humanity.

Needless to say that no effective action could be taken on the Lake amid the Boko Haram insurgency and sundry violence in the region. Efforts should be increased towards ending the crisis for peace to return to the area and for people to live normal lives, therefore.

The crisis in the Lake Chad basin, it must be said, has continuously escalated over the years and violence has uprooted over 2.4 million people, making it the worst crises in Africa.

The upsurge in Boko Haram activities and the abject state of Lake Chad, which is the livewire of millions of people, therefore, demand urgent action. Getting the Lake recharged is not only a critical part of the rehabilitation of the region. It is the only way lives can be preserved in peace and tranquility for economic activities to thrive.

This is the time for those who genuinely want peace in Nigeria and the West African sub-region to get involved It is encouraging that a number of initiatives are being put forward and it is good enough that Nigeria is spearheading the efforts.

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Lake Chad
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