Michael Olugbode in Maiduguri
Recession of Lake Chad has left about 40 million youths restive and exposed to poverty and unemployment in the West African and Central African sub-regions, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Khadija Ibrahim, lamented monday.
The minister, who decried that this has often contributed to insecurity and strive on the African continent, said the most affected countries as a result of the recession of the lake are Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroun.
Delivering a keynote address at a workshop organised by the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA), under her ministry, with the theme: ‘Water Resources and Sustainable Environmental Management in the ECOWAS region’, Ibrahim said there was urgent need to brainstorm on the lingering issues of water resources and environmental management in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region.
She said many technical experts were brought together to brainstorm and fashion out an enduring solution to the poverty, unemployment and insecurity challenges caused by the problem.
At the workshop in Maiduguri, Borno State, which was organised for capacity building of technical experts and stakeholders on the sustainable development of the ECOWAS region, the minister said: “At the extended level of the African Union, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), African Peer Review Mechanism, United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisations (UNFAO) and so many other multinational institutions, the problems of water recession and environmental degradation have frontally been addressed, yet the problems still persist.”
The minister who, was represented by Ambassador Ahmed Gusau, said the theme of the workshop: ‘Averting Humanitarian Crisis in the ECOWAS region through sustainable water resources and environmental management’, was timely and appropriate as poverty, unemployment and youth restiveness have severely affected both Western and Central African sub-regions.
The other dangerous angle to the receding lake, according to her, is the devastation of the ecosystem caused by environmental degradation through refuse dump on coastal lines which emits toxins that are injurious to human health.
She noted that environmental pollution has been identified as the major reason for the depletion of ozone layer with harmful radiation on human body and skin diseases.
On the devastating effects of erosion, she said: “This has rendered many people homeless and by extension, contributed to poverty, hunger, depression, unemployment, conflicts and total economic recession in the ECOWAS region.”
The minister however reassured the region of government support and commitments in addressing the issue of receding Lake Chad, River Niger and any threat on the coastal line to reduce the menace of water recession and environmental degradation.
The Vice-Chancellor of University of Maiduguri, Prof. Ibrahim Njodi, who was the chairman of the occasion, said Boko Haram in the Northeast is a symptom of the challenges of water resource management in the Lake Chad Basin areas.
Njodi, who was represented by Prof. Haruna Godowoli, the institution’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Administration, said for the state Governor, Kashim Shettima, to shift focus from challenges of insecurity to water resource management, has indicated that peace has come to the state and affected sub-region of the country.