“Regional consultations on groundwater resources in the Lake Chad Basin”

Wednesday, 2019, November 20

This was the theme of a regional workshop organised on 20 November 2019 in N'Djamena. It was part of the LCBC/BGR project on improving groundwater knowledge in the Lake Chad Basin. It is funded by the German Cooperation and implemented by the German Federal Institute of Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the main advisory body of the German Federal Government on geosciences, sustainable use of natural resources and the preservation of human habitat.

The main objective of the three-day workshop was to assess, on the one hand, the results obtained by this project on improving knowledge on groundwater in the Lake Chad Basin and, on the other hand, plan activities of a new phase. In addition to LCBC experts and experts of the German Federal Institute of Science, participants included experts and lecturers-researchers in hydrology from LCBC member countries

This projects is the result of long and fruitful cooperation, marked by tangible achievements. The LCBC/BGR project has provided a large number of technical trainings on a wide spectrum of groundwater-related issues for LCBC and its member states. It has significantly improved the availability of groundwater data in the Lake Chad Basin and has developed an approach to the management of these common waters. In general, it has reinvigorated the importance of water governance, improve and protect the quality of freshwater resources in the Lake Chad Basin for sustainable development.

As main source of fresh water, groundwater resources, stored at a great depth in aquifers, permeable rocks and sediments are renewable resources which are slowly supplied by rainwater infiltration during hundreds and even up to thousands of years. When good quality surface water resources are unavailable, humans do not hesitate to turn to this important underground reservoir.

However, population growth, intensive agriculture and industrial needs, have quickly increased the demand for groundwater. In addition to this over exploitation, the threat of infiltration into groundwater by contaminants and toxins from agricultural, industrial or urban activities, etc. are persistent. Like all groundwaters in the world, those in the Lake Chad Basin are no exception to this rule.

Thus, due to the urgent need to improve groundwater governance, and to reverse the current trend that leads inexorably to groundwater depletion and pollution of aquifers in the Lake Chad Basin and also anxious to help the precious groundwater resources of the Lake Chad Basin to continue to improve the lives of communities, the BMZ approved funding of 3 million euros for a new joint project between LCBC and BGR, which will address some of the challenges of groundwater management over the next three years.

According to the German Ambassador to the Republic of Chad in his welcome address, “Groundwater is an invisible resource of great importance in the Lake Chad Basin Region. For people, groundwater is used not only as a source of drinking water, but also for agricultural needs. However, climate change and population growth in the basin continues to put groundwater under pressure. There is an increase in drilling and the use of groundwater in agriculture to feed a growing population. Unfortunately, knowledge about the quality and quantity of this important resource in the Lake Chad Basin is not yet sufficient. Hence, the importance of this new LCBC/BGR Project”.
In order to demonstrate the importance Germany attaches to this crucial water resource problem, the diplomat explained the process that led to the preparation of this new project on transboundary water resource management of the Lake Chad Basin.

In his opening remarks, the Executive Secretary of LCBC lauded the unique cooperation between LCBC and the Republic of Germany. Amb. Mamman Nuhu also highly appreciated the funding of this new phase of this project which will refine knowledge of groundwater in the Lake Chad Basin and outline a common global vision on the issue of transboundary water resources. The project will also be a favourable framework where LCBC member states would have valid tools to improve the management of shared groundwater resources and their aquifers.

“It is heart-warming to note that the LCBC/BGR cooperation, currently in its 12th year, has significantly enhanced the knowledge base of the Commission regarding available groundwater resources in the basin. Despite the successes achieved over the years, there are still challenges and areas of research that need to be explored with regard to groundwater management in the Lake Chad Basin. Furthermore, there is also the need to consider creating more sustainable and viable approaches to the management of transboundary groundwater resources of the region. This is more so, in view of the continued shrinkage of the Lake and the increasing use of groundwater as palliative to the ever growing water needs of the area…” concluded Amb. NUHU.