There are multiple factors that are leading to the rapid decrease in size of the lake. Lake Chad has been a major source for freshwater used for irrigation and other purposes by the African people of the surrounding area, and as the populations have increased so have the demands on the lake resulting in a decrease of the lake’s size. Unsustainable irrigation plants in Niger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon have been diverting water from the sources of the lake, leaving it with a smaller water intake. Human use of the lake is not the only thing contributing to the shrinking though, climate change is another component of this environmental tragedy. Global warming and reduced rainfall have been targeted by scientists as potential aspects of Lake Chad’s shrinking. Additionally, desertification is sweeping across Africa leaving a much drier climate in its wake.
These combined human and environmental impacts on the lake that are advancing its decline in size are causing more problems than just a smaller lake. The lake is such a large part of the ecosystem and the culture that its reduction has started a series of other issues. Tensions between the different groups of people living around the lake are rising quickly. The surrounding countries are arguing over who has control of the remaining water. Towns that used to be situated on the water’s edge are now many kilometers away, making it harder for them to access the water. The ecosystems around the lake are suffering too. Invasive species are covering about half of the remaining part of the lake and are taking over, replacing the native species. A loss of vegetation along with deforestation are also concerns.
Despite the tragic outlook, there are some plans that are being implemented to help put a stop to the lake’s shrinking. The Lake Chad Basin Commision is placing dams to help retain more water. The World Bank is also contributing $10.6 million for a project that will try to reverse the land and water degradation that the lake has already suffered from. Sustainable agriculture and irrigation practices are also being taught to rural farmers by the Lake Chad Basin Commision with the aim to prevent further degradation. The joint efforts in place by groups like the World Bank and the Lake Chad Basin Commision will hopefully put a stop to Lake Chad’s rapid decrease, and eventually return it to the great lake that it once was.