By; Bayo Akamo, Ibadan.
Forests and Water Management experts Monday alerted that no fewer than 30 million people in Nigeria, Cameron, Niger and Chad may lose their means of livelihood to Lake Chad if nothing urgent is done to tackle the challenges facing the Lake.
According to the experts, while speaking at the 2016 International Day of Forest held at the FRIN Auditorium, Jericho, Ibadan, considering the massive presence of invasive plant species that have covered the surface of the lake, the future of “Lake Chad is in grave danger with a surface area of 22,000 square kilometres which is the size of Isreal, Kuwait and Maryland in United States of America combined which currently provides fresh water for agriculture, grazing land, fishing and irrigation projects for millions of people in the area .
Speaking, the Executive Director, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Dr. Adeshola Adepoju declared that the programme was to alert the society about the importance of forests, and also to create awareness on the need for sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development for the benefit of current and future generations.
Dr Adepoju who was represented by the Director and Head of Department, Sustainable Forest Management in the Institute , Dr Mrs Aderonke Adio said the condition of the Lake Chad as an international emergency, saying, for now, herdsmen from the North were fighting for their very existence because water bodies which supports over 30 million people have dried up.
“When President Buhari came on board he was very worried about the crisis facing the Lake, that was what informed the setting up of a Committee to work out a solution to prevent the Lake from dying. At the same time, the World Bank is working to save the Lake, but these efforts were grossly inadequate because the Lake is vanishing,” he said.
The Executive Director added that “the shrinking did not start yesterday, it started about 30 years ago and you begin to wonder what we’ve done as a nation to stem the tide. FAO has called it ecological catastrophe predicting that the Lake will disappear this century.”
The guest Speaker Dr Opeyemi Ajewole in his paper titled: Forests and Water, stressed that forest and water played significant role in watershed management .
While charging all the stakeholders to evolve a proactive strategy to rescue Lake Chad, he declared that the people have great role to play in the preservation of the forest and save the rivers, streams and lakes from vanishing.
The guest speaker advised farmers and other land users to shun bush burning and cutting down of trees to prevent sad consequences of climate change on humans and animals.