Lake Chad Is Dying


This lake provides water to more than 20 million people living in the four countries which surround it, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria. What are the people to do when the water is gone?

Lake Chad Fishermen Pack Up Their Nets

Muhammadu Bello and his nine children used to depend on Lake Chad for their livelihoods.

But the former fisherman became a farmer as the waters vanished eastwards from the shores of his village in north-east Nigeria.

Experts are warning that the lake, which was once Africa's third largest inland water body, could shrink to a mere pond in two decades.

A recent study by Nasa and the German Aerospace Centre blames global warming and human activity for Africa's disappearing water.


"Africa is being cheated again by the industrialised West," says Jacob Nyanganji of Nigeria's University of Maiduguri.

This lake is dying and we are all dying with it
Muhammadu Bello

"Africa does not produce any significant amount of greenhouse gases, but it's our lakes and rivers that are drying up. America has refused to ratify Kyoto and it is our lakes that are drying up."

Villagers in Nigeria's semi-arid border region with Chad, Niger and Cameroon understand full well the consequences of what is happening.

"I don't know what global warming is, but what I do know is that this lake is dying and we are all dying with it," says Mr Bello.

"Some 27 years ago when I started fishing on the lake, we used to catch fish as large as a man.

"But now this is all the fishermen bring in after a whole night of fishing," he says pointing at tiny catfish piled on the ground in Doron Baga's once-famous fish market.

His family now farm on rich, dark loamy soil that was once part of the lake - growing onions, peppers, tomatoes and maize.

There are constant arguments over territory between fishermen

Fisherman Muhammad Sanusi

"This entire area used to be covered with water when I first came here," Mr Bello says with a sweep of his hand as we left the village by car heading towards the lake - a journey which took three hours along a bumpy dusty trail.

As recently as 1966, Lake Chad, which sits between Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, was a huge expanse of water that the locals fondly referred to as an "ocean".

The Central African Republic's Logone and Chari rivers empty into the lake. But reduced rainfall and damming of the rivers means that only half of the water now gets to the lake.

The Komadougou-Yobe River in far north-eastern Nigeria which also feeds the lake now flows only during the rainy season.
The people of Africa are suffering because of the gluttony of the West in regards to our seeming indifference in understanding how our actions here affect people around the world. It is immoral for us to simply watch their lakes drying up, their land turning to desert, their cattle lying emaciated, their fish dwindling, and their lives and livelihoods lost. As this article also illustrates, the people of Africa on a wide scale do not even know what "global warming" is. All they know is that on a lake that was once thriving now stands a creeping desert with dwindling hope of life.

I am then making an urgent plea to Al Gore to take his Climate Project to Africa. I know he has already done a training session in Australia and is planning one in Britain for this March. I believe it is also imperative that he think about expanding this program to Africa to not only train individuals to spread this truth about the climate crisis, but to also work with those governments and NGOs willing to provide tools to educate on this topic and to also address overpopulation, waste of freshwater resources, and desertification. I would gladly donate what I could to such a cause.

Mr. Gore has stated that we have all we need to solve this problem, and that is not only true of the climate crisis but the water crisis as well. However, due to ignorance, greed, and now this climate crisis, fresh water is and will become a golden commodity to be used as a political/corporate weapon and a way to keep people subservient. Water is a human right, and it is inhumane and immoral for those of us who live in a land of such fortune and plenty to sit and watch while fellow world citizens die from a catastrophe that can be remedied by us pulling together as global community.

The Disappearance Of Lake Chad

If this were the Great Lakes, would you not think this urgent?