By Tosin Kolade
The federal government is to review studies on the proposed inter-basin water transfer from the Congo River Basin to the Lake Chad Basin.
The Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the ministry was carrying out the exercise in partnership with the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and PowerChina Group, a Chinese company.
Adamu, however, said that the inter-basin water transfer project could not be funded by the Federal Government alone, adding that the process might not be sustainable, even if it started the project.
He said the Federal Government and the Lake Chad Basin Commission were, therefore, seeking alternative ways to channel the water from the Congo Basin into the lake, so as to reduce costs and neutralise potential glitches.
“I told experts in the Lake Chad Basin Commission that we should consider the water channelling option which will allow the water to flow by gravity; it is something we will work at.
“Presently, I don’t think the economy of this country can support water transfer yet.
“All we are doing is that we have signed an MoU with the M/S PowerChina Limited to conclude plans for the actualisation of the project on the transfer of water from the Congo River,” he said.
The minister once said that the Federal Government was discussing modalities with relevant stakeholders on how to save Lake Chad from drying up.
The minister underscored the need to draw international attention to the desiccation of the lake in order to save 47 million people whose livelihoods depended on the lake.
Adamu said that eliciting international support for the project was imperative since more than 47 million people depended on the resources of the lake for farming, fishing and livestock production, as well as water supply for drinking and sanitation.
Speaking on the Benue River Basin, the minister said that the ministry had facilitated the signing of a MoU with Cameroon for the joint management of water resources of the basin.
He said that the agreement would not only reduce incidences of flooding in Nigeria and Cameroon but it would also reduce poverty, while improving the socio-economic development of the two countries.
Besides, Adamu said that the Programme for the Sustainable Development of the Lake Chad Basin (PRODEBALD) would aid the sustainable reduction of poverty of the people whose livelihoods depended on the resources of the basin.
He also said that the overall goal of the programme was to improve the productivity and management of the ecosystem of Lake Chad basin.
Beyond that, Adamu said that the ministry had concluded plans for the construction of boreholes, fish market stores, pathways to facilitate the movement of people and goods in the north-eastern part of the country.
NAN reports that the Global Resource Information Database of the UN Environment Programme said that Lake Chad had shrunk by over 95 per cent between 1963 and 1998.
“However, the 2007 satellite images show significant improvement over previous years,” it said.
Lake Chad is economically important, as it provides water for more than 68 million people living in the four countries adjacent to it — Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. (NAN)