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Thirty  million people will be displaced if Lake Chad dried up


The Senate has warned that the eventual drying up of the Lake Chad will displace over 30 million people in four countries sharing border, including Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon.

It also warned that such an occurrence, if not prevented, would plunge the West African sub-region into unprecedented ecological and humanitarian crises, with far-reaching global consequences.

The upper legislative house gave the warning on Tuesday, while deliberating on a motion seeking for an urgent action to save the lake.

The motion was sponsored by Senator Ahmed and about 50 other senators who all agreed on the need to take urgent steps to stem the receding lake.

The Lake Chad Basin is the fourth largest lake in Africa, and had a surface area of about 25,000 squares kilometres in the 1960s.

It was a repository of bio-diversity, playing an important socio-economic, political and cultural role to over 30 million people.

Following the adoption of the Fort Lamy Convention, the heads of the four countries, in 1964, established the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC).

The commission was charged with the general objective of harmonizing the activities of member countries for a sustainable management of the resources of the basin.

The Senate, at the plenary, expressed the concern that the lake had been drying up over the last 50 years due to a combination of natural and human factors.

Senator Lawan said the surface area of the lake had reduced from 25,000 squares in 1960 to a mere 2,500 square kilometres, adding that the fear was that it may completely disappear before the turn of the 21st century.

He also said the already high level of poverty in the region would be further exacerbated, while the fragile ecosystem would be degraded.

He said it would trigger mass population displacements as environmental refugees, worsening social and security challenges in the region and beyond.

Senator Ben Ayade, however, kicked against the motion, saying that the amount of USD14 billion estimated for a project to checkmate the receding of the lake was enormous and was huge enough to provide job for unemployed Nigerians.

He was also, however, countered as it was noted that Nigeria would not be sole sponsor of the project, as the other member countries would be involved.

The Senate, therefore, resolved, among others, to request President Goodluck Jonathan, in consultation with the chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and other leaders, to constitute a robust team of eminent citizens drawn from the member states to embark on a sensitization programme of selected donors.

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