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The Food and Agriculture Organization held a special event Friday to raise awareness and mobilize funds to save Lake Chad, which was once one of the world's largest fresh water lakes. The United Nations organization says a humanitarian disaster looms due to the shrinking of the lake and this must be urgently addressed.
Lake Chad, which is bordered by four African nations: Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria and Chad, was once one of the world's largest. But a combination of climate change, drought and bad use of resources, have shrunk the basin by 90 percent in the past four decades.
The drying up of the lake has not only caused an ecological catastrophe but a humanitarian one looms as well. The director for the Land and Water division at FAO, Parviz Koohafkan, says there are enormous consequences for the populations who live in the lake region.
"Between 20 and 30 million people are affected, especially from the point of view of food security," said Parviz Koohafkan. "They are the poorest of the poor and they are most insecure in terms of food and nutrition."
He says something must be done urgently to reverse the tragic disappearance of Lake Chad if the livelihoods of this vast area are to be safeguarded. He explains some of the steps that need to be taken.
"Helping the local communities to better use resources, through participatory approach, through development, through capacity building, through helping them in coping with water scarcity, with land degradation, development projects but particularly in investment," he said.
One project being considered at the moment is the transfer of water from the Lake Congo basin to the Lake Chad basin. The minister of Energy and Water in Congo, Jean Richard Itoua, says this is an option that needs to be carefully examined.
"We need to do this feasibility study; we need also an impact study to be sure that the consequences of transferring water will not be bigger than the solution we're trying to bring to Lake Chad," Itoua said.
Experts say it is urgent to address the problem because at the current rate, Lake Chad could dry up and disappear in 20 years.