Last update:

Lake Chad desertification, Chad


There is no single cause for the drastic shrinkage of Lake Chad: natural fluctuations as part of a long term cycle, heavy human use through the pumping of water for irrigation and deforestation have all been cited. Climate change has also been given as a major reason for why Lake Chad has been reduced from 25,000 square kilometers in 1963 to 1,300 square kilometers today[1]. As a symbol of global warming, however, Lake Chad is seen in the context of Africa being the continent most vulnerable to climate change, facing rising temperatures and increased drought. This despite Africa being the least responsible for global greenhouse emissions, which cause global warming[2]. The consequences of Lake Chad drying up are dire. The lake is estimated to provide a lifeline to nearly 30 million people in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. It has led to a massive reduction in fishing, which many people relied on for income and has caused tensions at community level between different land and water users and regionally between countries competing for the resources of the lake. The shrinkage has a negative impact on, among other things, large scale irrigation schemes in Nigeria. The lake serves as a critical, strategic area for global biodiversity, home to 120 species of fish as well supporting 372 bird species. The countries within the region are among the poorest countries in the world. Based on the 2007/2008 UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) for 177 countries[3] the LCBC countries rank amongst the lowest globally.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Lake Chad desertification, Chad
Location of conflict:Chad Basin
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Aquaculture and fisheries
Climate change related conflicts (glaciers and small islands)
Specific commodities:Fish
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Annual fish production on Lake Chad is estimated at about US$60-million. Over 200,000 people are directly involved in fishing, with 10 million supported by the sector[4]. It is estimated that there has been a decline of catches from 220,000 tonnes in 1974 to 100,000 tonnes today.

See more
Project area:130000
Level of Investment:N/A
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:30000000
Relevant government actors:Lake Chad Basin Commission, Government of Nigeria, Government of Chad, Government of Cameroon, Government of Niger, Government of the Central African Republic
International and Finance InstitutionsAfrican Development Bank (AfDB)
The World Bank (WB) from United States of America
Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)
Global Environment Facility (GEF) from United States of America
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) from United States of America
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:WorldWide Fund for Nature, Ramsar Convention Secretariat, Birdlife International
Conflict & Mobilization
Reaction stageUnknown
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Land demarcation
Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Proposal and development of alternatives:Countries of the region have come together through the Lake Chad Basin Commission to coordinate their responses to the crisis and to work towards the suistainable use of the lakes resources. LCBC countries have developed an ambitious plan to replenish the lake with water from the Obangui, a tributary of the Congo River. The scheme will cost a staggering 14.5 billion dollars and feasibility studies are being carried out[5].
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Seen though the prism of climate justice (although the causes of Lake Chads shrinkage are multiple), Lake Chad is an example of how the effects and costs of global climate change as a result of greenhouse gas emissions emitted by industrialised countries are being borne by those in the developing world whom are the least responsible for climate change.
Sources & Materials
Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

from the riparian states.)

The 1992 UN Transboundary Watercourse Convention.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses.

(Together, the United Nations

Conventions protect the water rights of the downstream user from abuses of upstream states. The conventions provide the foundation for the development of bilateral and multilateral water agreements

IPS (2013). How to save a shrinking lake? Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

for the Lake Chad Basin. Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

Lake Chad Basin Commission (2008). Strategic Action Programme

Odada, E (Undated). Experience and Lessons Learned Brief for Lake Chad. Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

IPS (2009). Drying, Drying, Disappearing. Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

UNEP (Undated). Lake Chad: almost gone. Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network


France 24 (2010). Lake Chad: running dry?. Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

Al Qarra English (2013). Saving Lake Chad. Ahead of the 2013 Donors Conference. Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

Climate Change TV (2012). Rio 20: The disappearance of Lake Chad. Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

Climate Change TV (2012). Lake Chad Basin Commission. Available at: Accessed 7 February 2013.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Patrick Burnett
Last update18/08/2019
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.