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Lake Profile

Chad

General Information

Description Lake Chad is Africa's fourth largest lake by surface area. For thousands of years, Lake Chad has been a center of trade and cultural exchange between people living north of the Sahara and people to the south.

6,000 years ago, Lake Chad was approximately 20 times larger than it is today. Its maximum depth was 154 meters, compared with 2-4 meters today.

Country Cameroon
Chad
Niger
Nigeria
Latitude 13° 0' 0" (13.0000)
Longitude 14° 10' 0" (14.1667)
State
River Basin Lake Chad

Maps

 Chad global index map (LakeNet Explorer)
 Chad locator map
 Africa Lake Biodiversity Conservation Priorities 2003
 Lakes of West Africa
 Lake Basin Management Initiative (LakeNet Explorer)

Physical Characteristics

Description Of Lake Chad's tributaries, the Chari/Logone System supplies 95% of the lake's water input. The lake is subject to substantial evaporation, yet it is not saline.

While the drainage basin is considerd to cover 2,400,000 square kilometers yet the New Conventional Basin area is 1,035,000 square kilometers.

Volume 72.00 km3
Surface Area 1,600.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 1.5 m
Maximum depth: 8.0 m
Origin Tectonic
Type Fresh
Intermittent
Natural
Catchment Catchment size: 1,035,000.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 647:1

Socio-Political

Economic Value Lake Chad basin houses some of the poorest countries of the world. Of the six countries in the Lake Chad region, five have less than US $350 per capita output and income per annum. Moreover, the populations of four of the countries earned less in 2001 than in 1995.

The estimates of annual household income (CFA) from various sources or activities are as follows in order of importance: fishing 26 billion, crops 15.5 billion, animal husbandry 8.6 billion, small irrigation schemes 6.3 billion and large irrigated projects 5.5 billion. However, the World Resources Institute estimates the real value of ecosystem services to twice the gross national product of $33 trillion. The habitat thus needs to be protected in order to preserve the values of the ecosystem services.

Major Cities N'Djamena, Kano, Maiduguri, Maroua
Population 22,000,000 (2003)

Watershed Management

Description In 1964, the four countries bordering Lake Chad created the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to manage water resources in the basin, and added The Central African Republic as a member in 1994. The LCBC is working to counter the fact that no effective monitoring or early warning system is in place, water demand is not managed, and capacity in-basin is low. Stakeholder participation has been low.

Effective conservation plans are expected to include revegetation and wetlands restoration, and the harmonization of regional regulations and enforcement measures. Two major subbasins have been identified.

Watershed Action Plan Implementation underway
Sub-basin Action Plan In development
Issues Rainfall patterns in the Lake Chad basin have changed significantly in the past 30 years, resulting in a significant drop in water level, a decline in vegetation and an increase in vulnerability to erosion. Large numbers of people and their livestock have migrated due to the changes in rainfall and have increased pressure on resources upstream (south). Desertification appears to be occuring. Unsustainable development decisions such as the construction of large dams and mining operations without sufficient planning have exacerbated problems in the lake basin. Deforestation is creating worsening erosion problems. Population in the basin is expected to climb from 22 million to over 36 million by the year 2025.
Other Issues Biodiversity Conservation
Erosion
Lake Levels (water quantity)
Fisheries
Poaching
Toxics
Watershed habitat alteration
Monitoring Generally, there is insufficient knowledge of water resources, and specifically, how aquatic systems function. There is no systematic system for monitoring the quantity and quality of freshwater resources, nor are there effective water quality protection programs. The available water quality data series date back to the sixties and seventies. Lake Chadís River basin organizations established in member countries like Nigeria made substantial contributions in this area up to the late 1980s before lack of political will and funding problems resulted in the collapse of the monitoring networks. Nevertheless most of the available datasets have been captured.

Biodiversity Conservation

Description Lake Chad Basin fisheries have suffered from a combination of upstream damming,drought,overfishing, and increased juvenile catch due to the use of smaller mesh nets.

Over 370 species of birds have been inventoried in the lake basin. Nesting habitat for the black-crowned crane has been significantly diminished. Animals in the basin include oryx,, gazelles, elephants, black rhinoceros, and the Lake Lere manatee. Water dependent species include crocodile, hippo, waterbuck and sitatunga. In addition to the drought, poaching and the lack of trained enforcement personnel are concerns.

Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
Ramsar Site
WWF Global 200
Species of Concern

Organizations

Lake Chad Basin Commission

LakeNet Programs

World Lake Basin Management Initiative
International Waters Learning Exchange and Resource Network
LBMI Regional Experience Sharing and Review Workshop for Africa

Documents

Chad (PDF)  Experience Brief. Final. 2/27/2006.
Managing Lake Basins for Sustainable Use - Lake Basin Management Initiative Final Report (PDF)  Project Report. Final. English. 2/27/2006.

Resources

Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
Chad designates new site as part of transboundary effort by the Lake Chad Basin Commission
Crop Explorer - Global Reservoir and Lake Elevation Monitoring
Crop Explorer - Lake Level Variations from TOPEX/POSEIDON and Jason-1 Altimetry for Lake Chad
ILEC Database
Lake Chad River Basin map & information
RAMSAR profile of "lakes of international importance" in Niger

News

1/21/2010 - Future Wars Could Be Fought Over Lakes, Rivers
2/5/2007 - Climate Change, Human Pressure Shrink Lake Chad
1/15/2007 - Lake Chad fishermen pack up their nets
4/7/2005 - Disappearing Lakes, Shrinking Seas
11/1/2004 - Lake Chad Commission Raises Alarm over Funds
6/25/2004 - World Bank, UNDP Approve N1.344bn for Lake Chad
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
3/24/2004 - Nigeria urges Lake Chad action: Nigeria's president has warned that Lake Chad will soon disappear unless immediate action is taken
6/16/2003 - Virtual lab launched for researchers working on large drying lakes
3/21/2003 - Saving Lake Chad
7/15/2002 - A heady discovery
1/14/2002 - Substantial portion of Lake Chad named a Ramsar site (Chad)
3/2/2001 - Africa's Lake Chad shrinks due to irrigation demands & climate change
8/3/2000 - African nations seek global help for Lake Chad
7/27/2000 - Crucial summit to decide future of Lake Chad

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.

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