Water And Oceanography

What is Causing Lake Chad and other Lakes to Shrink



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"This lake has to be saved” cried Wakil Bakar from the Lake Chad Basin Commission.  The lake is shared by four countries.  It is a source of water to both humans and livestock.  Its shrinkage represents a huge threat.  Alas Lake Chad is not the only ecological catastrophe.  Many great lakes are on the brink of disappearing.  This begs the why question: Why is this happening to many lakes at the same time?

 Whenever something like this happens, Climate change appears to be the knee-jerk answer.  That’s unquestionably true.  Global Warming is indeed one of the main culprits behind the shrinkage of lakes and other environmental changes.  Lake Chad is no exception.  The average rainfall annual has been reducing as local people said and that quickened its shrinkage.  However, there are other factors as well. 

 When a lake in Bernardo O'Higgins National Park in Chile disappeared, Global Warming was held culpable.  But on a closer inspection, experts found out that water had gone deep down the earth because of a crevice that was caused by an earthquake.  So I think it is of paramount importance that we do not think of climatic changes as being the one and only cause of lake shrinkage. 

 Global Warming has been around for such a long time.  Yet the shrinkage of Lake Chad we are experiencing is on an unprecedented scale.  If Global Warming was the real cause, the lake would have experienced this drastic decrease in the past because it is quite shallow and that makes it defenseless against climate change.  So why did the lake not experience severe shrinkage if temperature change is the prime cause?  There must be other reasons that hastened its decrease.

 Human activities are believed to be one of the main reasons.  We seem to pay less or no attention to a very important fact. As I previously stated, Lake Chad is shared by four countries: Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria and Niger.  There is a lack of collectivity as water dries up.  Lake Chad is the victim of the absence of let-us-work-together attitude between these countries.  Also, irrigation projects that required the diversion of water from the Chari River are blamed as well.   

 90% of the lake’s water comes from this river while The Komadougou-Yobe River flows only on rainy seasons.  Simply put, the shrinkage of the lake is partly due to the cutting off of water supply.  In addition to that, building dams on rivers in northeastern Nigeria has contributed to the suffering of people and livestock.

 For the aforementioned facts, Global Warming is not the only cause of lakes’ shrinkage.  It must not be a reflex response to every environmental problem.  It is assuredly a contributing factor.  But more often than not, it is human beings’ dereliction of their duties towards the precious water that adds insult to injury.


 Sources:

Replenishing Lake Chad.

Lake Chad Fishermen pack their nets.

Slow Death of Africa’s Lake Chad.

Lake Chad, West Africa.



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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.scienceinafrica.co.za/2003/march/chad.htm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/6261447.stm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/4906692.stm
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://earthshots.usgs.gov/LakeChad/LakeChadtext