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Scientists warn of impending 'disaster' threatening one of world's largest lakes: 'A complex and urgent humanitarian crisis'

Seven million people are facing famine in places surrounding the lake.

Seven million people are facing famine in places surrounding the lake.

Photo Credit: iStock

A lake that is vital for the survival of millions of people from multiple countries in Africa is drying up, and rapidly rising temperatures in the region have been deemed partly responsible. 

What's happening?

As EcoHubMap detailed, Lake Chad has seen its size decrease by as much as 90% since the 1960s. The lake, which covers Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria, has suffered because of the overuse of water and drought, and the region is seeing temperatures rise 1.5 times faster than the global average.

Scientists have described the lake's decline as an "ecological disaster," with EcoHubMap adding it is a "complex and urgent humanitarian crisis that requires regional and international cooperation and action."

Why is this so concerning? 

The lake's basin also extends to Algeria, Libya, and Sudan, and as a whole, Lake Chad is vital for the survival of 40 million people.

In the last 60 years, the lake's surface area has shrunk from around 10,000 square miles to nearly 600 square miles.

In addition to being an important water source for consumption and farming, the lake is also vital for the fishing industry. With the lake seeing such a drastic reduction in size, it has severely impacted the food security of people in the area. 

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, cited by Reliefweb, estimates that seven million people are facing famine in places surrounding Lake Chad, while half a million children have severe acute malnutrition.  

Water scarcity also increases the risk of violence, with extremist group Boko Haram using the situation to its advantage, while a lack of resources and the threat of conflict also leads to people leaving the area for safer places, putting increased strain on other communities that are already stretched.

What can be done to save Lake Chad?

The United Nations Development Programme is working on projects to improve natural resource management and save these fragile ecosystems, according to Reliefweb.

Efforts to reforest the area and increase vegetation are underway, while support is also being given to farmers to deal with the changing climate conditions. 

But global heating is something we can all try to combat in our own way, regardless of location. Reducing the pollution we produce daily can make a huge impact, and community initiatives can increase the number of people participating in positive change.

A community solar scheme is one way to reduce reliance on an electricity grid that might still be utilizing a polluting coal-fired power plant to create energy, with the added benefit of saving money on utility bills. 

But even ditching the car in favor of cycling, walking, or using public transport for short journeys will reduce the amount of gases released from internal combustion engine vehicles. 

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