N’Djamena (Chad), 29th May 2017 – The Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO) signed a Direct Funding Agreement as part a project entitled “Applying Transboundary Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites Model with a view to promoting peace in the Lake Chad Basin through the sustainable management of its natural resources”. The Direct Agreement which amounts to 6,456,000 US Dollars is aiming at strengthening the capacities of LCBC Member States, namely Cameroon, Chad, CAR, Niger and Nigeria to safeguard and to manage in a sustainable manner cultural, biological and water resources in the Lake Chad basin through a multisectorial approach based on the principles of world heritage and biosphere reserve as well as the international hydrological programme tools with a view to mitigating poverty and promoting peace.
The Project constitutes one of the components of the Programme for the Rehabilitation and Strengthening of the Socio-Ecological Systems of the Lake Chad Basin (PRESIBALT), which is a flagship Programme being funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) for an amount close to 55 Billion Francs CFA. The Programme is designed for five years and aims to improve the resilience of more than 15 Million individual living around Lake Chad, including 52% of women.
The activities which shall be executed as part of this Direct Funding Agreement with UNESCO focus mainly, in the next three years, on the updating of the current knowledge, the strengthening of institutional, technical and economic capacities, and the restoration of ecosystems. The results achieved shall also enable to identify eligible sites for the statute of Biosphere Reserve and/or World Heritage Site.
The signing ceremony which took place at LCBC Headquarters, was chaired by the Executive Secretary of this Institution. About forty (40) participants including the Secretary General of the Ministry of Hydraulics and Sanitation of Chad, the Directors of UNESCO Country Offices in Abuja and Yaoundé, the Manager of the Biosphere Reserve Programme, the Coordinator of the Scientific Programme in Central Africa, and the Specialist of the Programme of World Heritage Center as well as national Experts and Project Partners attended the ceremony.
In his welcome address, the Executive Secretary of LCBC commended the end-process of this partnership with UNESCO which started several years ago. He also called upon all relevant stakeholders to spare no efforts to save Lake Chad while stressing concrete and tangible interventions and involving local communities, notably women and youths.
The Director of UNESCO’s country Office in Abuja, Nigeria, in his remarks, focused on the relevance of this partnership which includes both UNESCO’s expertise in the domains of hydrology, ecology, culture, social science and education so as to promote sustainable development and peace.
The Secretary General of the Chadian Ministry of Hydraulics and Sanitation focused on the firm commitment and dedication of UNESCO in saving Lake Chad. He also stressed all the relevance of the inscription of Lake Chad, our common heritage, to World Heritage.
This ceremony was also an opportunity for LCBC and UNESCO to call on the international community for more mobilization and synergy of action for the safeguarding of Lake Chad. The specificity of this new project is that, for the very first time, an African Financial Institution, notably the African Development Bank (AfDB), is funding a project of this nature for the great and exclusive interest of Africans and for the sake of sub-regional cooperation and integration.
Lake Chad which is the fourth largest lake in Africa situated between West and Central Africa, and its basin constitute a significant source of fresh water and other resources. The livelihoods of more than 30 Million persons depend on these resources through the practice of fishery, agriculture and livestock farming. It is worth noting that Lake Chad has lost the 2/3 of its surface area due to climate change effects and human activities. It is registered on the indicative list of the world heritage of Chad, Cameroon and Niger.