Channel1 Los Angeles
28 de Junio de 2018

Since the 1980s, reduced rainfall in Chad has contributed to the shrinkage of Lake Chad, which has in turn had serious repercussions on the livelihoods of the region’s riparian communities. Though water levels seem to be increasing in recent years, the 90 per cent shrinkage of the lake’s water volume since 1960 will take decades to replace — if the current positive trend of 20–30 cm rainfall a year continues.

Decreased rainfall is not the only factor contributing to the lake’s shrinkage. Population growth, poor irrigation practices, and evaporation have all led to increased competition for the area’s already scarce resources.

The Lake Chad Conference on Climate Change was held in Abuja, Nigeria in March 2018. According to Kerry Agambo, a community elder from Chad in attendance at the conference: “the problem we are facing today is because of the dam that was constructed in Cameroon. We don’t have water for our crops because it is being blocked in Cameroon.”

Agambo was referring to the Maga Dam, constructed in neighbouring Cameroon in the province of the same name. The dam stems the water flow from the Logone River, which flows between Cameroon and Chad and provides an important source of energy. It also directly feeds into Lake Chad. Harnessing the electricity created by the dam creates employment and this electricity is sold for profit. Since the dam is in Cameroon, the benefits are felt there; since the water-flow is restricted to Chad by this same dam, the availability of water for power (and the ensuing jobs) is limited there.

The combination of climate change factors and the construction of the dam has negatively affected farmers, herders and fishermen throughout the region as agricultural production declines; the numbers of fish caught decrease; and grazing lands or watering holes for livestock become increasingly rare.

Temperature increases compound this reduced rainfall, contributing to desertification and rendering lands even more difficult to exploit. This phenomenon is exacerbated by the increased salinization of soil, which is accelerated by the grazing habits of a cattle species known as Vaches Kourithat spreads contaminated soil.

The conflict dynamics in the Lake Chad Basin, and in particular the Boko Haram insurgency which has caused the displacement of over 3 million people since its onset in 2014, have further disrupted livelihoods as well as human, physical, social and natural capital in the region.

Strained resources and decreasing livelihood opportunities make migration a common phenomenon in the region, however disaggregating the motivations behind these movements is quite difficult. In an effort to discern which migrations are climate induced, IOM, the UN Migration Agency, is conducting a regional study in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria to establish baseline data on climate induced mobility and the nexus between climate change, livelihoods, conflict and migration throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

This study relies on mixed methods combining qualitative desk reviews, key informant interviews and focus group discussions with quantitative open source data analysis and household surveys in 32 strategically identified villages in the Lake Chad Basin. The aim of this research is to identify existing policies, practices and strategies pertaining to the climate change, livelihood, conflict and migration nexus, and to identify data and policy gaps while reporting on displacement trends and needs in an effort to provide tailored policy and response recommendations.

Results of this study will be disseminated through a coordination meeting locally and will be publicly available in October 2018.

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