Uche Usim, Abuja
Hopes of reviving the Lake Chad region brightened on Wednesday as the World Bank approved two operations totaling $346 million in International Development Association (IDA) financing to strengthen resilience and livelihoods in the area, which is shared among Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
Overall, the Lake Chad region suffers from poor development and economic indicators compared to the averages in the four countries. There are significant gaps in infrastructure, access to basic services is poor, and natural resources and livelihoods are severely impacted by climate change. The situation is exacerbated by insecurity prevailing since 2009 due to insurgent activities that prevents more than 49 million people from attaining their livelihoods in fishing, livestock farming and agriculture.
The two newly approved operations focus on enhancing regional collaboration among the four countries to support communities close to the shore of Lake Chad areas and to improve the living conditions of the population, including vulnerable women and youth who face the negative impacts of climate change and suffer from insecurity.
The first project, the Lake Chad Region Recovery and Development Project (PROLAC, $170 million, will support national and regional coordination platforms and local capacity building, contribute to restore sustainable rural mobility and connectivity and strengthen the recovery of agricultural livelihoods in selected provinces of Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.
It will also promote knowledge sharing and regional dialogue with a data platform hosted at the Lake Chad Basin Commission, while strengthening community empowerment through citizen engagement, social cohesion activities and labour-intensive public works. PROLAC will contribute to the rehabilitation of rural roads and small transport infrastructure, and will promote productive investments by helping agricultural producers to increase productivity in the polder areas in Chad, the farming of oasis areas in Niger, and in the areas close to the shore of the Lake Chad in the far North of Cameroon.