Lake Chad, once one of the world`s largest water bodies, could disappear in 20 years due to climate change and population pressures, resulting in a humanitarian disaster in central Africa, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today.
The lake " surrounded by Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria " has shrunk by 90 per cent, going from 25,000 square kilometers in 1963 to less than 1,500 square kilometers in 2001.
The 30 million people living in the Lake Chad region are being forced into competing over water, and the drying up of the lake could lead to migration and conflicts, FAO cautioned.
Fish production has recorded a 60 per cent decline, while pasturelands have been degraded, resulting in a shortage of animal feed, livestock and biodiversity.
The humanitarian disaster that could follow the ecological catastrophe needs urgent interventions, " said Parvis Koohafkan, Director of FAO`s Land and Water Division. The tragic disappearance of Lake Chad has to be stopped and the livelihoods of millions of people living in this vast area should be safeguarded. "
The agency collaborates with the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), founded in 1964 which brings together countries in the region regularly to discuss regulation and control of water use.
A radical change in water management techniques is needed to stem the diminishing flow of water into Lake Chad, according to the body.
Together with the LCBC, FAO will hold a special event " Saving Lake Chad: A System Under Threat " " in Rome tomorrow during World Food Day in a bid to raise awareness about the disastrous situation in the lake.