This image belongs to the BBC but I have copied here because it is so dramatic. Click here to read the associated article.

Shrinking Lake Chad

You might need to click the image to see it all (depending on your screen resolution).

It shows how Lake Chad (which was once an inland sea) has dwindled over the last thirty years. The second image is from October 2001 at the end of the rainy season when the rivers and lakes should be quite full.

As river waters are being used more for irrigation, hydro power and human consumption and the climate in the semi-arid region seems to be getting drier the mighty lake is shrinking. It has already emigrated from Nigeria and Niger and looks like it might have to give up its dual nationality with Cameroon soon.

The excellent supply of high quality protein from the Lake Chad fishery is shrinking fast – which will have an effect on the whole region. For the moment, the rich soil of what was once the lake bed is providing good farming but the desert is on the move southward.

It is useless to expect the Governments to do anything useful. The whole Chad Basin is littered with the debris of past projects which have failed as a result of corrupt bureaucrats and contractors. I believe the best hope is for small scale fish farming to fill the employment and nutrition gap. The necessary water lies close under the surface of the region and artesian wells can be sunk in some areas. But is there enough expertise, interest and capital for this to happen?