Adapting to climate change in the Lake Chad Basin
Project descriptionTitle: Adapting to climate change in the Lake Chad Basin
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Lead executing agency: Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC)
Overall term: 2013 to 2018
With its vast expanses of arable and grazing land and rich fish stocks, Lake Chad is an economically and environmentally important area for Chad, Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Libya, the member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC). LCBC was set up in 1964. The Lake Chad Basin is one of Africa’s largest closed sedimentary groundwater basins and encompasses three climate zones: the Saharan desert climate in the north, the Sahel in central Chad with its wet and dry seasons, and the Sudan zone in the south with a hot, wet-dry tropical climate. This results in marked regional and season variation in rainfall.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change is set to have a particularly serious impact on agriculture in the Sahel zone. There has been a significant increase in the number of floods and droughts in the region since the 1970s. The surface area of Lake Chad has shrunk from 25,000 square kilometres in the 1960s to 4,800 square kilometres in 2014. According to the United Nations Environment Programme, half of this reduction is due to the effects of climate change. The other half is caused by increased use of the inflows from tributaries into Lake Chad for irrigation and to meet the needs of a constantly growing population, especially in Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. The multi-ethnic population of the Lake Chad Basin has risen from some 17 million people in 2005 to the current total of around 38 million.
LCBC is the only institution that enjoys the acceptance of all the riparian states when it comes to resolving cross-border issues. One of its tasks is to implement a sustainable and integrated system of water resources management in the Lake Chad Basin, taking into account the effects of climate change. It has been mandated with helping to improve socio-economic conditions and the environmental situation in the catchment area, coordinating member states with regard to their use of water, defusing potential conflict over natural resources, and advising member states on projects with a transboundary impact. LCBC is not yet in a position to fulfil these wide-ranging tasks.
LCBC is capable of coordinating with its member states to implement effective measures for adapting agricultural practices in the Lake Chad Basin to climate change.
The project supports the Lake Chad Basin Commission through capacity development and in particular the provision of expertise on climate change and strategies and measures for adapting traditional and modern agricultural practices accordingly.
A range of adaptation measures are being developed and rolled out in order to identify best practices and make them accessible to all relevant actors in the member states. A platform for regional knowledge transfer facilitates the exchange of information and data on climate change. Initiatives are implemented to raise awareness of climate change among local producer groups and associations. In a pilot zone crossing the Chad-Cameroon border, data is recorded on the effects of climate change on agriculture and pilot measures are developed for improving yields by combining traditional and modern adaptation practices (AHT GROUP AG). Improvements are made to the value chain in order to promote food security and boost the local/regional market in the cross-border region.
A climate change study carried out in the Lake Chad Basin as part of the project illustrates the agricultural and socio-economic challenges facing the region.
Surveys covering over 1,100 villages to provide a picture of agricultural systems revealed that rainfed farming accounted for the bulk of agricultural production in the pilot zone, making it particularly vulnerable to climate change and climate variation. The survey results are currently being used to develop measures for increasing harvests (for instance through irrigation and better quality seed), improving storage practices and diversifying value chains.