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Nigeria to host international conference on Lake Chad

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an international conference in Nigeria on saving the Lake Chad and revitalise its basin’s ecosystem for sustainable livelihood, security and development.

The president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made this known in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday.

Shehu said that the conference would be the first international forum on Lake Chad organised by the six-member countries of the basin’s region.

“The three-day conference will consist of two days of technical sessions and one day high level meetings between February 26, 2018 and February 28, 2018 and it will take place in Abuja,” he said.

The Presidential Aide said that the high level meeting would have in attendance all of the Presidents and Heads of Government of the Lake Chad Basin member-states.

The member-states are Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Libya.

He said that “key partners” collaborating to host the conference were Nigeria, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Lake Chad Basin Commission and relevant donors.

Other partners, according to Shehu, are the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank and the governments of Germany, China, Canada and the European Union (EU).

He said the main objective of the conference was to create global awareness on the socio-economic and environmental challenges arising from the shrinkage of Lake Chad.

He explained that the challenges include the threat to livelihoods, especially insecurity, with a view to developing a comprehensive programme for action to save the lake from extinction.

“Specifically, the conference is expected to discuss and develop consensus on the different options to restore Lake Chad, including the Inter-Basin Water Transfer project from the Ubangi River in Central Africa to the Lake Chad.

He revealed that among expected outcome of the conference was a roadmap for the implementation of its recommendations “that should lead to the restoration of the lake and restoration of fishing and irrigated farming”.

According to him, this will alleviate poverty, strengthen climate resilience in the basin, create employment, lead to reduction of terrorist activities and increase the revenue of the population and Lake Chad basin countries.

The lake Chad Basin, which is shared by Algeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and the Sudan, is about eight per cent of the size of the African continent, with a population of about 40 million inhabitants.