AfDB helps strengthen the resilience of socio-ecological systems in Lake Chad Basin

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On December 17, 2014, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group approved a series of loans to Lake Chad Basin countries to be disbursed through its African Development Fund (AFD). The funds granted are US $18.30 million for Cameroon, US $29.94 million for Nigeria, US $19.52 million for Niger, US $3.21 million for the Central African Republic and US $7.83 million for Chad.

The Bank's support is for the implementation of a Programme to Rehabilitate and Strengthen the Resilience of Socio-ecological Systems in the Lake Chad Basin (PRESIBALT), as part of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) five-year investment plan (2013-2017). Its goal is to improve the resilience of vulnerable populations who depend on the natural resources of the lake basin in Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Central African Republic and Chad.

The program will be implemented over five years, broken down into three components: the preservation and enhancement of water resources, the development of ecological services and value chains, and the strengthening of institutions and program management. The direct beneficiaries of PRESIBALT will be the 15.3 million inhabitants (52% women) of the area around the lake, who will see improvements to their incomes, food security and access to basic social infrastructure. Regional and local consultation and cooperation will also benefit from it, promoting integrated management of natural resources as well as intra-regional level trade in agricultural products. The program will take account of the social dimension of resilience in order, ultimately, to reduce potential sources of conflict.

The ecosystems of Lake Chad have significant natural variability and are exposed to a range of stresses that climate change and anthropogenic factors have accentuated. The Lake Chad Basin is also a very fragile area in security, social, economic, humanitarian and political terms. The magnitude of the situation therefore requires an intervention approach on a regional scale, placing the rehabilitation and strengthening of the resilience of socio-ecological systems at the heart of its priorities.

Leading the technical and financial partners, the Bank is at the centre of efforts to mobilize the resources necessary for implementation of the LCBC five-year investment plan for 2013-2017. The goal of PRESIBALT, which endorses the leading role of AfDB, is to address weaknesses in the basin by releasing inclusive development potential, promoting joint management of water resources, the main driver for the different river-lake ecosystems, whose diversity and sustainability are essential. The safeguarding of Lake Chad is at stake, hence the future of the populations around it.

PRESIBALT will rehabilitate all the basin's agri-hydro-meteorological networks and will provide simulation tools to establish rational management of water resources. Furthermore, the program will strengthen the capacities of the LCBC for it to make optimal use of the Regional Database established by the Water Charter, and will finance forums for users of the basin's resources for better sharing of information collected. In parallel, an early warning system coupled with an agricultural information system will be established to prevent risk of natural disasters. Lastly, PRESIBALT will establish an integrated system for managing and sharing knowledge about the program's activities, regularly publishing them on the LCBC web site, in order to capitalize on and manage learning and experience acquired.