AfDB and Lake Chad Basin Commission sign MOU to rehabilitate the Lake Chad Basin

6 Mar 2024 by The Water Diplomat

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) have signed an agreement to rehabilitate and restore the Lake Chad Basin. The agreement was signed in the sidelines of the 37th African Union Summit held in Ethiopia on the 17th and 18th of February, will mobilise financial and technical resources to improve the development and management of water resources, support livelihoods and restore peace in the region.

The Lake Chad basin provides a source of livelihood for some 2 million people and contributes to food security for a further 45 million people living in the basin. The lake receives its water from the Chari-Logone River system, which has its source primarily in the high rainfall areas of the Central African Republic and which flows more than 800 km to the lake itself. The basin is an important freshwater resource shared by Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic.

The surface area of the lake has shrunk by more than 90% since 1964, largely as a result of climate change, the expansion of irrigation and the increase in water demand for other purposes. The loss of the lake’s waters has negatively affected the livelihoods of fishing, farming, and herding communities, leading to internal displacement and increasing insecurity and conflict. Reliefweb estimates that some 3.2 million people have been internally displaced of which the majority – 2.2 million – are in Nigeria.   

At the African Union Summit, the Minister of Water for Chad, Passalet Kanade Marssela stated: “The population living in this ecosystem are facing major socio-economic challenges – add to that the insecurity situation due to terrorist groups which brings loss of livelihood, destruction of households, forced internal displacements and beyond our national frontiers” .

In addition, Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, the African Development Bank Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery, stated that the agreement provides a framework for projects and programs to improve the quality of life for millions of Africans.

“This Memorandum of Understanding involves transforming living conditions in the hydrographic basin of the six member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, namely Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, the Central African Republic and Libya. As the main financial partner of the Commission for several years, we will consolidate the gains made, through a new integrated regional programme that accelerates sustainable solutions to the challenges of Lake Chad and further improves the living conditions of the basin's population,” she said.

The Lake Chad Basin Commission named the African Development Bank the “Champion Lead Partner for resource mobilization for the revival of the Lake Chad.”

Ambassador Mamman Nuhu, Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission said:

“Our shared goal is to ensure the sustainability of the Lake Chad Basin, especially the Lake, which has dramatically shrunk due to climate change and increased human demands. This…is a manifestation of our commitment to ensuring water security, economic prosperity, and stability in the region. It is an integral part of our shared goal to build climate resilience and sustainable growth.”

The African Development Bank has historically provided support for the goals and activities of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, having provided a total of U.S.  $ 241.3 million across several  projects in the water, transport, environment, and social sectors. For instance, the AfDB support and an ongoing multinational programme to rehabilitate and strengthen the resilience of Lake Chad basin systems. 

The Bank is also developing a multi-year institutional capacity building programme for the Lake Chad Basin Commission which will enable it to carry out in-depth environmental, technical and economic studies that will inform solutions, decision-making, and financing requirements for Basin restoration. In addition, the Bank’s African Water Facility is financing the development of the second, five-year investment plan to build a pipeline of projects for the sustainable and beneficial use of water resources in the basin, as well as prepare the groundwork for further investments.