NAM acknowledges efforts to conserve Lake Chad

Non-Aligned Movement is not just a political body. The Movement echoes the multifarious development concerns of the Global South, be it financial, economic, technological or environmental. Environmental concerns are large in the developing world as compared to the developing nations. One such concern is the drying up of water bodies. NAM has called on to undertake efforts to conserve water bodies.

Non-Aligned Movement has expressed its serious concerns over the drying up of Lake Chad. Lake Chad, one of Africa’s largest lakes is shared by Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Over the last 60 years, the lake’s size has decreased by 90 per cent as a result of overuse of the water, extended drought and the impacts of climate change. The surface area of the lake has plummeted from 26,000 square kilometers in 1963 to less than 1,500 square kilometers today. The reduction, which has been called an ecological disaster, has not only destroyed livelihoods but led to the loss of invaluable biodiversity.

Since the mid-80s governments from the various nations that comprise the Lake Chad Basin Commission have taken steps to address the continued degradation of the lake’s ecosystem. This has included carrying out awareness-raising campaigns on sustainable use of its natural resources and the conservation of its ecosystem. It has also involved the holding of conferences bringing together ministers, heads of governments and officials from the United Nations, civil society, and other key player. Non-Aligned Movement has acknowledged such efforts.

One important initiative to save Lake Chad is the “Improving Lake Chad management through building climate change resilience and reducing ecosystem stress through implementation of the Strategic Action Programme for the Lake Chad basin”. This entails a regionally endorsed Strategic Action Programme (SAP) with the overall objective to achieve climate resilient, integrated ecosystem-based management of the Lake Chad Basin through implementation of agreed policy, legal and institutional reforms, and investments that improve water quality and quantity, protect biodiversity, and sustain livelihoods.

BIOPALT Project is another major initiative. BIOPALT is the French acronym for biosphere and heritage of Lake Chad. Funded by the African Development Bank for a period of three years, the project aims to take stock of Lake Chad’s water and other natural resources alongside socio-economic and cultural factors. It also aims to reinforce local capacities in natural and cultural heritage preservation and undertake pilot activities for the rehabilitation of some ecosystems and the promotion of a green economy. In close consultation with local populations, BIOPALT will contribute, for example, to the rehabilitation of wildlife migration corridors between Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria, notably for elephants, preserve oases and prevent the drying up of water supplies by restoring ponds. It also focuses on income generating activities such as the production of spirulina, an algae traditionally harvested by women, and support efforts to preserve Lake Chad’s iconic Kuri cattle, an endangered species. BIOPALT is also designed to help the countries bordering the lake to work together so as to meet the management and preservation standards required for transboundary sites in the Lake Chad Basin to Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage sites.

Affected countries of Africa have also adopted the Abuja Charter. This was adopted at The International Conference on Lake Chad (ICLC), which met in the Nigerian capital of Abuja February 26-28, 2018. The Abuja Charter asserts that saving Lake Chad from extinction is a pan-African imperative, that the only way to restore Lake Chad is through water transfer from the Congo basin. At the ICLC it was also announced that African Development Bank would facilitate the creation of the Lake Chad Fund of USD 50 billion, to be sourced from African States and donations by Africa’s Development Partners. NAM has called on the international community and development partners to intensify their support through concrete financial and technical assistance, for the collaborative frameworks of action by the affected countries, aimed at rescuing Lake Chad.

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