A financing agreement was signed between UNESCO and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) on 29 May 2017 at the LCBC headquarters in N'Djamena, Chad to fund the project “Applying the model of transboundary biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites to promote peace in the Lake Chad basin through the sustainable management of natural resources”. This project is a component of the Programme to Rehabilitate and Strengthen the Resilience of Lake Chad Basin Systems (PRESIBALT), funded by the African Development Bank. The funding agreement covers the project’s implementation over a three-year period for a total of USD 6,456,000.
The project aims to strengthen the capacities of LCBC Member States (Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Niger and Nigeria) to safeguard and sustainably manage the hydrological, biological and cultural resources of the Lake Chad basin across their borders in order to support poverty reduction and promote peace. It will apply a multisectoral approach based on the principles of biosphere reserves and World Heritage sites as well as the tools of UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme.
The activities supported through the agreement include updating knowledge, building institutional, technical and economic capacities and restoring ecosystems. In addition, these efforts will facilitate the identification of eligible sites to be considered for designation as Biosphere Reserves and / or World Heritage sites.
The signing ceremony was chaired by the Executive Secretary of the LCBC and counted with the participation of Chad’s Secretary of State in charge of water and sanitation and about 40 national experts and partners. UNESCO was represented by the Directors of the Aduja and Yaounde Offices, the Head of Section on MAB Networking (Biosphere Reserves and Capacity Building), the Regional Coordinator for natural sciences in Central Africa and the Programme Specialist of the World Heritage Center, focal point for Chad.
On this occasion, UNESCO and the LCBC appealed to the international community for a stronger mobilization for the protection of Lake Chad and to improve synergies. This new project is fully funded by an African institution, and designed to enhance sub-regional integration and collaboration.
Lake Chad is the fourth largest lake in Africa, and the largest in Western and Central Africa. Its basin is an important source of freshwater for over 30 million people. Unfortunately, it has lost 90% of its area over the past three decades, a process that is exacerbated by climate change. Chad, Niger and Cameroon have included the lake in their tentative lists of sites to be considered for nomination as World Heritage sites.