Fisherwomen of Lake Chad show optimism in face of multiple challenges
In her nets she has perhaps fifty fish, a good enough catch, given she started fishing just five hours earlier. But, it is not sufficient to feed her eleven children.
“I can sell this fish and use that money to buy grain to feed my family,” she said, “but the grain doesn’t go far. I have been fishing for twenty years and it is becoming more difficult to catch fish.”
Fishing has traditionally sustained communities in the Lake Chad Basin area, supporting nearly 30 million people living along its shores in Chad, but also Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger.
However, the once huge lake which covered 250,000 km2 has now shrunk to one tenth of its original size, largely due to unsustainable water management and the corrosive effects of climate change.
With fish now more scarce, and fishermen needing to travel further to find them, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has stepped in to offer support.
“We have been helped by a project which has supplied new nets, so my catch is increasing,” said Falmata Mboh Ali, “so I am hopeful that my family’s life can improve.”
The precarious situation local people now find themselves in has been compounded by insecurity related to the activities of the Islamist Boko Haram terrorist group, across the whole Lake Chad region.
The insurgency the group has mounted in north-eastern Nigeria and neighbouring countries has displaced more than 2 million people and led to humanitarian crisis. The UN estimates that around four million people don’t have enough to eat.
And if more refugees flee into Chad from the conflict in the Central African Republic, the food and nutrition crisis is likely to worsen.
Perhaps not surprisingly the Lake Chad region is amongst the poorest in the world, where access to food, health services and education is extremely low.
Fisherwomen including Falmata Mboh Ali, explained the challenges they face to a high-level joint United Nations-African Union delegation, visiting Bol on Thursday; a visit which also included the Foreign Minister of Sweden, Margot Wallström.
The African Union Special Envoy for Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop who was part of the mission said: “The challenges are great but we can act. Gender roles are changing, women now go out to fish, when before it was men, so they are playing a bigger role in society.”
The steps being taken by fisherwomen are small but significant, according to the UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, who is leading the delegation to Chad.
“Women’s economic empowerment is a critical tool for their access to leadership and decision-making positions,” she said. “I encourage the women to take part in all political, peace, security and development processes that will sustain their communities.”
The UN and the wider international community is supporting efforts by countries in the Lake Chad Basin to regenerate the region.
Ultimately, it’s hoped that Lake Chad itself could be given new life with rising water levels, allowing fisherfolk to carry out their traditional activities of years gone by, while providing them with a more secure and stable economic and political future.
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Action needed to end deadly clashes between African herders and farmers: UN chief
More than 80 people in central Nigeria were killed in land disputes between the two sides this week. However, this has been a long-standing issue with similar incidents occurring in other countries in Africa, causing more than 1,000 deaths over the past year alone, according to media reports.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed deep concern over the mounting violence, as well as the resulting banditry, extortion and cattle rustling.
“He condemns the resulting loss of life, property and livelihoods, as well as population displacement, which undermines peaceful coexistence between communities in many of the affected countries. It is also detrimental to regional stability,” the statement said.
The UN chief urged all concerned governments, regional organizations, civil society and other parties to work together to find solutions to the conflicts.
He underlined the readiness and commitment of the UN to support national and regional efforts in this regard.
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On World Day to Combat Desertification, UN shines spotlight on ‘true value’ of land
In a statement marking the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, the head of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) said that everyone needed to recognize the true value of land.
“I would ask you: when you choose what to eat, what to wear or what to drive, think about how your choice impacts the land — for better or for worse,” said Monique Barbut, UNCCD Executive Secretary, in her message for the day, marked on 17 June.
Land-grabbing, unplanned urban sprawl, unsustainable agriculture and over-consumption can yield quick economic gains, but such short-sightedness eventually causes degradation and loss of critical ecosystem services due to unsustainable land use.
As a result, a third of the world’s usable land has already severely degraded over the last 30 years, with 75 billion tons of soil from arable land lost annually, said UNCCD.
However, the UNCCD says everyone can contribute to, and benefit from, investing in sustainable land management — as consumers, producers, corporations or governments. Farmers can invest in smart agriculture with higher yields but reduced pesticides. Policymakers and land managers can invest in sustainable land management while consumers can choose to spend on organic and fair-trade products that avoid ruining the land.
“Let us work together to transform the way we consume, produce, work, and live together without compromising our current or future social, economic or environmental security. Without compromising the land on which it all depends,” said Ms. Barbut.
The UN General Assembly established the World Day in 1994 to promote public awareness of land degradation and to draw attention to the implementation of the UNCCD — the sole legally binding international agreement linking environment and development to sustainable land management. The World Day is observed annually on 17 June, the date the UNCCD was adopted.
This year’s theme for the Day is “Land has true value — invest in it.” The campaign hopes to promote changes in behaviour and adoption of more efficient planning and practices, to ensure there are sufficient land resources for the world’s long-term sustainability and economic prosperity.
Article source: https://news.un.org/feed/view/en/story/2018/06/1012222Back to Top