Earth Snapshot RSS Feed Twitter

Desertification and Shrinking Lake Chad

13.3N 14.1E

April 2nd, 2012 Category: Deserts, Environmental Disasters, Lakes

Chad - March 11th, 2012

Fewer than 50 years ago, Lake Chad was bigger in surface area than the country of Israel. Today its surface area is les than a tenth of its earlier size, shrinking 90 percent between 1963 and 2001 from 25,000 square kilometres to under 1,500. Forecasts suggest the lake could disappear altogether within 20 years.

The shrinking of the lake is the result of climate change and overuse, and it is putting at risk the livelihood of the 30 million people who depend on its waters. The lake is bordered by Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria. Four more countries, the Central African Republic, Algeria, Sudan and Libya, share the lake’s hydrological basin and are therefore also affected by its shrinking.

Villages that used to be thriving lakeside ports are now stranded miles from the water, and have been swallowed by the advancing Sahara desert. Fishers and farmers are struggling to survive. Farmers who rely on lake waters for irrigation are having to move nearer to the water or abandon their activities. Lack of water has caused pasture lands to shrivel up and led to a serious shortage of animal feed, estimated at 46.5 percent in some areas in 2006, resulting in cattle deaths and plummeting livestock production.


One Response to “Desertification and Shrinking Lake Chad”

  1. 1
    Steve Klaber:

    A very large part of this is reversible. An important part of this process of accelerated hydrosere is the infestation of the lake and its tributaries with weeds, particularly Typha. The weeds are all biomass. Efforts are underway to feed this biomass into the fuel market, and so finance the weed control effort. If we weed and dredge this lake, and its tributaries, we will replenish the groundwater is now cut off. The silt to be removed is good soil for replacing eroded or desertified soil, and there is a lot of it. Picture the lake restored, and generating “lake effect” rains. Picture the Sahel green. Picture the Nile flowing freely and copiously. IT CAN BE! What’s in the way is mostly weeds, and the silt that they have deposited.

Leave a Reply