The Federal Government and UNESCO on Friday renewed commitments to revitalise the Lake Chad Basin and reduce the impact of climate change in the country.
Mr Sulieman Adamu, Minister for Water Resources, expressed the government’s commitment when officials of UNESCO paid him a courtesy visit in Abuja.
The officials visited the minister to hold a bilateral meeting of stakeholders on the proposed International Conference on Lake Chad Basin, to address the water depletion level of the lake.
It is also a follow up on the issues of mutual interest discussed by President Muhammadu Buhari and UNESCO’s Director General, Ms Irina Bokova, in August 2016, towards attaining the SDGs by 2030.
Adamu, in his remark, said that shrinking of the lake had affected livelihood and revenue generated from the ecosystem.
“The seriousness about the problem of Lake Chad prompted the desire to mobilise better and sustainable options to tackle the problem.
“To this end, we have internalised the problems and have drawn global attention to this concern.
“Nigeria is ready to partner with UNESCO to organise an International Conference to address issues on the Lake Chad Basin,” he said.
Ms. Flavia Schlegel, Assistant Director General for Natural Sciences, UNESCO, said that the meeting was expected to come up with a road-map and have a memorandum of understanding to host the conference.
Schlegel noted that humanitarian activities carried out around the lake contributed to its reduction and had further weakened its economic power to countries around it.
“Our office is here to organise on how to set up an international conference on the situation of Lake Chad because the depletion of the Chad is not only a water crisis.
“Issues around the lake are also a food crisis, climate change, security and peace; obviously it’s a crisis of displaced people, extremism and terrorism.
“The DG in her last visit to Nigeria, was very responsive to that issue and is committed to the setting up of that international conference, which will take stock of activities around the lake.
“UNESCO can be a part of this conference by facilitating it and we are looking forward to developing road-map towards the international conference,” she said.
She also mentioned that UNESCO had been of great support to Nigeria in other areas of concern and was ensuring that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics education, were sustained in the country.
Similarly, Mr Firmin Matoko, Assistant Director General for Africa, UNESCO, observed that salvaging Lake Chad was of great interest to the organisation, adding that it was about people and the environment.
Matoko noted that hosting the conference on Lake Chad promoted UNESCO’s role in achieving and maintaining peace in the region.
In his remarks, Dr Paul Adalikwu, Acting Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, thanked the visiting team from UNESCO for showing commitment in addressing issues affecting national development.
The meeting, however, resolved that approval by the Heads of States of Governments concerned would determine the hosting of the conference in the second or third quarter of the year.
The conference is expected to assemble scientists, experts, bilateral and multilateral donors to work in harmony with Civil Society Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations and other donors, to proffer solution to the depletion of the lake.
The Lake Chad Basin is about eight per cent of the size of Africa, shared by Niger, Cameroon, Nigeria and Chad.
The Lake in the 1960’s had the land space of about 25,000 sq km, but reduced to 2,500 sq km in 1985 and later increased to 4,698 sq km in 2013.