President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the international community would pay heavily if nothing is done to solve the problem bedeviling the Lake Chad Basin. The President Buhari, who was represented by Vice president Yemi Osibanjo, at the International Conference on Lake Chad Basin going on in Abuja, stated nations must be selfless in solving the problem. Declaring the event open, President Buhari also acknowledged the contribution of UNESCO and the Lake Chad Commission for their services.
“Lake Chad is the sixth largest in the world. The situation in the Lake Chad has left over 40 million people in dire need of food,” he added. Last May, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations (USCFR) organized a briefing session on the situation in the Sahel region of Africa. During the session UNDP stressed the need for broad, concerted action to confront violent extremism and bring development solutions to the region affected by the Boko Haram insurgency that originated in Nigeria’s north-east seven years ago.
It identified an “arc of instability” that stretches across the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and the Lake Chad Basin. As UNDP and partners gather in Oslo for the International Humanitarian Conference on 24 February, we intend to focus on the situation in Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin with heightened urgency. As an organization with deep knowledge gained through practical experience in the field, UNDP firmly believes that an all-encompassing response is the best way to resolve this crisis. However, solutions must also be tailored to each country’s specific needs. Observers readily admit the Lake Chad Basin situation has been egregiously overlooked.
The crisis could affect the security, economic, environmental and institutional integrity of Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Boko Haram has already claimed more than 35,000 lives and caused the displacement of 1.8 million people from north-eastern Nigeria.
More than 10.7 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and famine is estimated to have already affected 65,000 people. Without urgent action, this figure could rise to 120,000 by mid-year. In Cameroon, 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes and close to 3 million people are expected to need humanitarian assistance this year.
Compounding these factors is the environmental tragedy of Lake Chad. Due to climate change and high demand for water, the lake has shrunk to a twentieth of the size it was in 1963. The result is degraded ecosystems, water shortages, crop failures, livestock deaths, collapsed fisheries, increased soil salinity and, as a result, increased poverty. UNDP, its fellow UN organizations and humanitarian agencies on the ground are at the forefront of the crisis response and have stepped up coordination.
Together they have provided effective and coordinated recovery assistance to the government and population in north-eastern Nigeria, notably in the epicentre of the crisis in the town of Maiduguri, Borno Sate. The Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), established by the Lake Chad Basin countries to combat Boko Haram, has managed to significantly curtail the capabilities of the militant group. Nevertheless, the group’s attacks remain persistent and its tactical sophistication has increased