By Lela Winston
Drought has reached crisis proportions in the Horn of Africa and Africa’s Sahel region. It is affecting Somalia, Nigeria, Kenya, Niger and others in the region. It is estimated that 17 million people are being affected by the Chad Lake Crisis, with 8 million of those affected from northern Nigeria, according to USAID data. The report goes on to suggest that nearly $400 million is needed to address the growing humanitarian disaster in 2016 alone. The UN estimates that 47,000 children are also at risk adding to the number of internationally displaced persons seeking resources, shelter and protection from insurgent groups.
Currently the Horn of Africa including parts of west Africa are undergoing one of the worst droughts in the history of the region. Exacerbating the drought is the slow and steady demise of Lake Chad, a 1350 km naturally occurring ancient lake that borders Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger. The shallow endorheic lake has been a major source of water for the region, including Ndjamena, the capital city of Chad.
According to the UN’s African Renewal Online, Lake Chad was once 26,000 km but has been reduced to roughly one-fifth of that size today due to environmental factors. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), also sites inadequate damming and irrigation methods as another major factor in the lake’s demise. The drought is creating instability in the region, compounded by pressures from insurgent groups pushing their way southward into sub-Saharan Africa.