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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Lake Chad water transfer possible, but expensive – Nigerian govt

The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, on Friday, August 26, 2022, has said that the proposed Inter-Basin Water Transfer from Congo River into the Lake Chad is possible but expensive, and will require more consultations.

Lake Chad
Scientists say the Lake Chad, that borders Nigeria and some other countries, has shrunken by 95 percent over the past 50 years. Photo credit: AP/Christophe Ena

Adamu said this at a Media Forum themed: “Engage, Educate and Empower Nigerians on the Legacy Project of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources” in Abuja.

He said massive interventions ongoing in the basin, had been largely impacted by effects of climate change.

No fewer than 40 million people depend on the natural resources of Lake Chad.

He hinted that Nigeria was currently working to improve the hydraulicity of River Chari and Logone through dredging and improvement of the river banks.

He noted that this was crucial as environmental challenges like silting, new flood plains due to climate change, were affecting the lake.

“The inter-basin water transfer is supposed to traverse many countries, we are taking water from the Congo Basin and transferring it to another 400 km into Chad, it is technically feasible.

“But it is very expensive. It requires a lot of study and we are going to be using the existing rivers, so it requires a lot of planning. But what we are doing is to start with the low hanging fruit.

“So what we want to do is to improve the hydraulacity of river chari and river Logone, the two rivers are the ones that bring water into Lake Chad.

“In addition to the climate change issue, even when you have good rain, the water just flows into the banks and creates new floodplains rather than flow directly into the lake.

“So it’s a lot of technical issues to deal with before you finally talk about the money, And the money of course, it’s a lot of billions of dollars.

“One of the good things is that it has been taken as a PanAfrican project, but even at African Union, they are now talking about it seriously.’’

Speaking on the ministry’s dam projects, the minister said the River Basin Development Authorities were being revitalised to deliver on their mandates.

He noted that the Songhai model, as an integrated agricultural practice was introduced to boost agricultural production and achieve integrated rural development.

He said since his tenure, 253 farmlands have been leased to the private sector for commercial farming while 42 small dams have been constructed across the nation.

In 2017, the federal government successfully conducted a feasibility study towards recharging the Lake Chad through an inter-basin water transfer from the Congo basin at an estimated cost of $15 billion.

This is a part of the projects envisioned to transform the region into a more stable economic hub as the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations against Boko Haram in the North-east draw to a close.

By Tosin Kolade

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