On 11th of August 29, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari said “Those living in the Lake Chad region have suffered untold hardship and displacement because of Boko Haram.
‘‘If there is no farming and fishing, they will dare the desert to migrate.
“Unless developed countries make concerted efforts to complete the feasibility study, mobilize resources and technology to start the water transfer from the Congo Basin, the Lake Chad will dry up.
“The people will go somewhere and they will create problems for those countries,” PMB said.
What we sought to unravel were these:
- How may climate change affect Lake Chad?
- Can this change exceed the carrying capacity of her growing population?
- Can it lead to forced migration?
- If yes, what will be the impact?
- Is President Buhari’s prediction true?
- If yes, what can we do to prevent disintegration?
We answered question 1 in the first part of these series. We will be answering questions 2 and 3 here.
Can this change exceed the carrying capacity of her growing population?
According to United Nations, total population size for West African was 298,043,000.
That population estimate is expected to hit 608,737,000 by By 2050.
This is an increase clearly in excess of 100% by 2050!
Lake Chad is Africa’s fourth largest lake by surface area.
Population within the basin is 22 million and may climb to over 36 million by the year 2025.
With an anticipated population growth of more than 100% in the areas under discourse and a reduction in fresh water supplies, populations living or depending on Lake Chad will be forced to migrate either into Cameroun or Niger Republics or Southwards into middle belt.
The increased clashes of Fulani herdsmen and farmers southwards is primary to this.
Can it lead to forced migration?
The atmosphere, man and his environment all represent a coupled System.
People tend to cluster around water bodies, forests, fertile lands, and mild weather areas.
For this reason, projected expansion of the tropics could play a huge role in migratory pattern.
Environmental drivers for this population rearrangement could be changes in forest structure, droughts, heavy flooding, and reduced agricultural produce.
The net results of these will be a collection of climate refugees and forced migration of people dependent on resources emanating from Lake Chad.
For instance, Herders are already moving southwards and this is related to depletion of grazing areas for herders.
It is not going to go away. It will increase. Except the Government finds a lasting solution to this, clashes will increase.
More people will migrate south wards and this will result in clashes.
There is evidence that the desert is expanding over the past few years due to climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change postulates that, “Climate change would lead to weakening of tropical circulation patterns, pole ward migration of mid-latitude storm tracks, an increase in tropical precipitation, and other climatic changes”.
All these are currently happening. Flooding is happening at an alarming rate.
All these will lead to fundamental shifts in ecosystems and human settlements.
Shifts in rainfall patterns would have obvious implications for agriculture and water resources and could present serious hardships for farmers.
Of particular concern are the semi-arid regions like Maiduguri, Kano, Yobe and Adamawa States.