Lake Chad: Another Protracted Crisis in the Sahel or a Regional Exception?

Common narratives on the Lake Chad Basin often focus on the nexus between conflict, development and climate change. In particular, the Lake’s situation attracts international coverage due to its shrinking size and the threat of multiple crises emanating from environmental degradation. This framework appears useful for donors and local governments, but the feedback loops among climate change, social marginalisation and conflict are not as straightforward. The problem is that the dominance of this analytical framework calls for policy response tools that are not always adequate. In the security field, the role of the Multinational Joint Task Force has been growing, but a stronger push in the sphere of governance is needed in order for it to gain legitimacy and improve its effectiveness on the ground. In the meantime, the Lake Chad Basin Commission has adopted some key policy tools to manage the natural resources in the area sustainably, but these initial steps must be followed by greater investment from Commission member states to advance implementation. An integrated regional approach remains the best way forward to tackle these complex dynamics.

Paper prepared in the framework of the project “Water diplomacy and culture of sustainability. The Chad Basin”.

Rome, IAI, March 2021, 18 p.
Publication date: 

Introduction: Mainstream (and oversimplified) narratives on the Lake Chad crises
1. Multi-layered security dynamics
1.1 An integrated approach for the stabilisation of the Sahel
1.2 Integrating the governance sphere
2. A case for regional integration
2.1 The LBCB Water Charter and the push for infrastructure megaprojects
2.2 The LCBC at a regional intersection: Institutional obstacles
2.3 The LCBC mandate spread too thin

Research area