Lake Chad is the fourth largest African lake after Lakes Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyassa. The size of Lake Chad which is one of the major Africa’s fresh water reduced of 95 % for the past 45 years. In 1963, the size of the lake was 25,000 km2 as opposed to 2,000 km2 today. The lake is the remnant of a former quaternary sea and has an altitude of 280 m and a depth which does not exceed 4 metres today. It is covered by islands and undergoes an intense evaporation.
Lake Chad is dying. It receded tremendously since the two harsh droughts in 1972-1973 and 1982-1984. It did not receive waters for too long. The rainfall dropped from 320 millimetres to an average of 210 millimetres. The two major rivers which flow into the lake are no longer powerful: the Chari River which originates in the Central African plateau and provides the lake with 90% of its waters, the Komadugu-Yobe which provides about 5%, El-Beid and others rivers, about 5%. Its highest level is noticed in December-January and the lowest level in June-July. In 2008, its dimensions were 30 km length and 40 km width in the mouth of the Chari - (Logone) and an overall size of 2,500 km2. Lake Chad covers less than 10 % of its 60’s size.
Lake Chad is a vast marshy area filled with water, islands and vegetation. There is no sand neither gravel but its banks are covered by alluvions which make the soil fertile. Down the years, sedentary tribes welcome for a few months cattle breeders from kanembu, peul and fulbe ethnic groups. Their wives are very beautiful through the ring they put in their nostrils and their large breast as well as their coloured tunics and magnificent bracelets. Their looks are powerful just like the majestic beauty of kuri cattle covered by their marvellous horns.
The salinity of the northern basin may increase if its water intake remains low, this would cause the disappearance of many plant and animal species thus speeding up erosion. Fishing which reduced from 243, 000 tonnes between 1970-1977 to 56 000 tonnes in 1986-1989, may keep dropping depriving riparian populations of a major revenue while States of the northern parts of Cameroon and Nigeria will be among the poorest of their respective countries. Safe water scarcity may cause the outbreak of diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid.
The saving campaign of Lake Chad could be the embryo of a multiform regional cooperation. Relevant challenges, strategies to be implemented and common achievements could compel LCBC to become a regional political and economic organisation in an area which contains over thirty million people.
- 22nd May 1964 : inception of LCBC with four member States;
- 1994 : Adoption of the Master Plan;
- 1990 : new reforms of LCBC; the organizational chart is made lighter and development missions as well as implementation of all projects are released back to member States;
- 1996: Official admission of the Central African Republic (CAR) as 5th member country;
- 2000 : Adoption of the document “Challenges of the Lake Chad Basin, Vision 2025”;
- 2008: Official admission of Libya as 6th member State;
- 2008-2009: Institutional Assessment consequent on the challenges of climate change to be met. The organizational chart and the mode of recruitment of senior staff of the Commission were profoundly reviewed;
- 2012: Adoption of the Water Charter of the Lake Chad Basin