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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Reviving Lake Chad: Nigerian Minister calls for international funding, understanding

Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, has called for more funding and understanding from international partners to save the fast drying Lake Chad from disappearing totally.

Lake Chad
The climate variability impact on Lake Chad has also worsened the abundance and conservation status of biodiversity. Photo credit: UNEP

Adamu, who was speaking as a guest on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) forum in Abuja, said Nigeria could not fund the revitalisation of the strategic lake alone.

The minister said that Lake Chad is an international water body, hence Nigeria will have to partner with other member countries to address the issues of the lake.

Part of the plan to revive the Lake Chad includes inter-basin water transfer from the River Congo to the Chad Basin.

Adamu said the Federal Government has began the process of partnering with the African Development Bank (AfDB) towards the resuscitation of the lake.

He recalled that part of the declaration of the Abuja Conference on Lake Chad was that AfDB should create a $50 billion infrastructure fund for Africa.

“Although we don’t need $50 billion for Lake Chad but, at least with that kind of fund, the inter-basin water transfer has another angle that you can create a roadway and canals for river navigation.

“You can create many dams and hydropower schemes that will benefit countries like the Central African Republic.

“We can even have a highway from Lagos to Nairobi to Mombasa, from West Coast to the East Coast. It’s all part of the grand plan. But these things, you have to take those systematically.

“So, now we’re waiting to sign the MoU with the AfDB, So, once we’re able to sign that, we hope that we can get some funding, about 2 million to 3 million dollars to do the feasibility study,” Adamu said.

He explained that after the feasibility study, there would be need for detailed engineering study and environmental impact assessment among others.

“These things take time, but they say the journey to a lifetime begins with the first step, at least we want to have that first step to initiate this process so that it can go.

“We have not taken our eyes off the radar on Lake Chad,” Adamu said.

The minister lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his commitment towards the realisation of the Lake Chad project.

“Let me give credit to President Muhammadu Buhari, there is no international forum on climate change that he has been, that he has not advocated for the world to support this Lake Chad project.

“But the world doesn’t seem to be interested when they hear the sum involved, at least the estimate for the works.

“As you know, sometimes the geopolitics is not in the interests of some countries, the developed world, to see us develop it. And unfortunately, we don’t have the resources,” Adamu said.

He said the region had a successful conference in February 2018, where there was an international consensus that the Lake Chad had to be saved.

“We had a successful conference in February 2018. In that conference, we achieved two things.

“Number one, we achieved consensus. There is an international consensus, not only an African consensus, an international consensus that the Lake Chad has to be saved.

“Secondly, the consensus we had among us African countries was that the inter-basin water transfer should be given a shot at as the best way for the long term sustainability of the lake,” Adamu said.

The minister expressed concern saying the problem was that the country was not getting the required funding adding that it was a tough situation.

“The other thing is that we seem to have a disagreement between us Africans and the rest of the world as to the best approach to do it,” Adamu said.

On the possibility of an inter- basin water transfer from the River Congo, he explained that the river channels have to be improved on, if transfer is to be carried out.

“If you are going to do the transfer, the volume of water that is coming, you have to improve the river channels.

“So, what we now decided to do, instead of starting the project from Congo and coming towards Lake Chad, let’s start from Lake Chad backwards.

“To do that, we need to improve the hydrolysis of rivers Chari and Logone. These are the two rivers that bring water into Lake Chad,” Adamu said.

He said the same thing Nigeria was trying to do with rivers Niger and Benue is exactly the same thing the government wanted to do with river Chari and Logone.

Adamu called for the support of African member countries as well as international communities.

“Lake Chad is an international water body. The Lake Chad Basin Commission is a multilateral agency, Nigeria cannot do these things alone. We have to do it along with other member countries.

“I’m worried that in the next 50 years we may wake up one day and there’s no Lake Chad,” the minister warned.

By Doris Esa

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