The Federal Government on Sunday pledged to strengthen trans-boundary partnerships with Lake Chad Basin member countries to save the Lake from extinction.
The Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, made the pledge at the News Agency of Nigeria Forum in Abuja.
Adamu said it was a matter for regret that the lake had depleted from its original size, saying its benefit for livelihood could not be over-emphasised.
He said the Federal Government was partnering with the Chinese and Italian governments to carry out a feasibility study for inter-basin water transfer from the Ubangui River in Congo.
He said the proposed water transfer would be one of the biggest water transfer in Africa, stretching over 2,400 kilometers with the sole aim of recharging the lake for maximum benefits.
Adamu said: “What it means is that if we don’t do something, one day we wake up and find out that the lake does not exist, it has happened in other parts of the world where lakes just dried up, we don’t want that to happen, so there was a consensus that the lake must be saved from extinction because it provides livelihood for as many as 40 million people currently.
“And that area has the highest population growth rate in the world, so in the next 30, 40 years, only God knows what the population would be, but we expect it to be high if the trend continues.
“Unless the lake dries up in which case, people will now migrate, and you know what those migration would be, there have only two or three options, some would migrate up into the North into Europe, some would go eastwards, into the central Africa region where it is already a conflict zone.
“Saving that lake and sustaining the livelihood of the people in that region is key and it is a security issue for us in so many ways, including part of efforts to stern the scourge of Boko Haram, the best way to save the lake is to do the inter-basin water transfer, so we achieve that, and that is the premise in which we are working.’’
The minister said the Federal Government had in 2002 committed $5 million to the Lake Chad Basin Commission to manage its resources for the member nations at the bank of the lake such as Cameroon, Niger, Central Africa Republic and Chad.
He said member states of the Lake Chad Basin Commission had expressed willingness to implement the roadmap for the restoration of the shrinking Lake Chad known as the Abuja Charter.
NAN reports that the Lake Chad is about eight per cent of the size of Africa and is shared by Algeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Nigeria, Niger and Sudan.
In 1992, a decision was taken to develop a master plan for the Lake Chad Basin, which included the establishment of an environmentally sound management of the natural resources of the Lake Chad conventional basin.
The feasibility study for the water transfer from the Congo Basin to the Lake Chad was the second priority project selected for implementation by the LCBC.