WHY LAKE CHAD SHRINKS
WHY LAKE CHAD SHRINKS by Oladosu Adenike
Water represent 72% of the world ocean, sea, Lake and river. The world has water bodies of different size, depth and volume. Lake tends to be the most sensitive to climate change due to the fact that other sources of water has outlet and flow in at which it can be refill but Lake was made for alternative use which had become a major source of livelihood for millions of people. As the ocean, sea and river are being flooded as a result of the melting of ice berg and severe water conditions, the Lakes are shrinking across the world. We have; Lake Huron, Caspian sea, Baikal Lake, Lake Victoria, Ojos del Salado, Blue Lake and other Lakes. But the most affected is Lake Chad. According to IPCC reports, food and water security have been negatively impacted by change in snow cover, Lake and river, ice and permafrost in many Arctic region. These changes have disrupted access to food availability within herding, hunting, fishing and gathering areas, harming the livelihoods and cultural identity.
UNIQUENESS OF LAKE CHAD:
Lake Chad sits within the Sahel, a semi arid strip of land dividing the Sahara desertification from the humid savanna of equatorial Africa. The Sahara is the largest host desert in the world and the third largest desert behind Antarctica and the Arctic, which are both cold deserts. The Sahara is one of the harshest environments on earth, covering 3.6million square miles (9.4 million square kilometers), nearly a third of the African continent, about the size of the United States. Formally there was once a Mega Chad, the biggest freshwater Lake on earth covering 139,000 square miles (360,000sqkm) of central Africa and rapidly shrunk to a tiny fraction of its former size 1,000 years ago. In all the Lake Basin in the world, no other Lake has these features. This has led to total depend on Lake Chad for survival (all year round), yet our climate is changing leading to the shrinking.
WHY ARE WATER BODIES IMPORTANT?
It is well known that water bodies are the most abundant component of nature. Thus constituting the largest part of the environment and are stressed due to climate change. Since water bodies are economically important, any stress of it leads to fight for resource control and finally armed conflict. This is evident in Lake Chad region as it is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. Large expands of the earth is filled with water than land and stress in it can lead to conflict and war. The immediate geographical density of the Lake Chad region shows it is dependent on by 40 million of people in the West Africa region. This has affected the livelihood of millions of people since water bodies are the source of biodiversity of species.
WHY LAKE CHAD?
Lake Chad is the largest endorhric basin (a close Lake) in Africa as it has no outlet to the sea and contains large area of desert. The Lake spans eight (8) countries including most of Chad and large part of Niger. A combination of dams, increase intense use (such as in irrigation), climate change and reduced rainfall are causing water shortage, contributing to terrorism and rise of Boko Haram in the region. As such, Lake Chad continues to shrink. Due to its dense overuse, it has led to resource control and “economical fight of the fittest” lending to arm conflict that kill tens of thousands of people in the West Africa region. The migration of herdsmen into region of greener pastures in southern Nigeria have led to farmer-herdsmen clashes (which is an armed and ethnic conflict), a conflict called “eco-ethnic conflict.”
Lake Chad crisis represents feminist crises as women bear the brunch of environment degradation. Since women are closer to nature (they tend to suffer from climate change). This further exposure have led to malnutrition, homelessness and finally promoting the culture of rape. It is known that climate change is a rape of the environment, so it is attendant effect of low agricultural productivity, water stress and arm conflict affecting the welfare and education of woman.
WHAT DOES LAKE CHAD REPRESENT?
Haven’t you heard; the Lake Chad region represent one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises of 7.2million displaced and 66,000 killed in 2019? That validation the IPCC report of 2007 and 2014 that Africa is most vulnerable to climate change? Lake Chad crises represent the kind of crises that will end the world if 1.5oC increase in global warming is not addressed or if we fail to meet the Paris Agreement. What will end the world is not nuclear weaponry or infantry of fearless soldiers but refusal to hide to simple instruction: Implementation of Paris Agreement. It represents the ongoing crisis occurring in parts of the world leading to failing democracy and institute of government.
The expanding Sahara desert which borders the Lake Chad may contribute to fueling of the Libya crises; increasing low agricultural productivity and citizen’s hopelessness. A combination of decreasing rainfall, increasing temperature and other climatic elements will destroy economical livelihood of people be it in Africa, Europe or Asia. Lake Chad represents what the world will witness in decades of inactions if we fail to obey simple agreement. As this will lead to creation of internally displaced persons camps, desert expansion resource control, arm conflict and finally failing democracies.
THE SOLUTIONS: CLIMATE GOVERNANCE
The solution to world peace through climate action is climate governance. To solve Lake Chad crises and other climate change crisis; a science based system of governance is needed. Climate governance incorporate; geographical sciences, ecological, agricultural science together with ICT into the field of governance as this will increase transparency, equality and fairness in government transactions and implementation. The economic survival of a nation is a key to a working democracy. This is all dependent on climate change; since agriculture depends on the elements of climate such as temperature, atmospheric, pressure, humidity and rainfall. It seeks to return power to the people through solving climatic and economic problems through peace deals, scientific knowledge and modern use of ICT. Survival of democracy will all depend on climate governance and giving power to the people and environment, by the people and environment and for the people and environment.
Oladosu Adenike is a freelance journalist. Peace or climate governance activist.