According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the once-vast Lake Chad, has shrunk 90% over the past four decades, threatening the lives of up to 30 million people with hunger, conflict, and migration.
Residing in an area that forms a natural border for the countries of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, the surface area of the lake has gone from 25,000 square kilometers in 1960 to just 2,500 today, according to the Chadian government, which will be hosting the 8th World Forum for Sustainable Development in October with a theme of “Saving Lake Chad.”
Canadian Parliament Member Glen Pearson, who has been working to help Sudanese refugees since 1998, has been calling for climate change mitigation to prevent a large humanitarian catastrophe in the Lake Chad and other African regions.
With the support of the Canadian government, Mr. Pearson was among the first to assist the refugees emerging from the conflict in Darfur, Sudan, another region afflicted by water shortage, adopting three Sudanese orphans.
Glen Pearson – Canadian Member of Parliament, humanitarian, vegetarian (M): The people who are coming out of Darfur into the area in which we work, they're not complaining so much about the political situation. They complain that they can't find water. Lake Chad has dried up.
Just since we’ve started going there in 1998, the wells are now about six feet lower than they were before. Much of that water is polluted now, because the cattle come into the rivers. The rains are coming far later.
VOICE: According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), half of Lake Chad's shrinkage is due to climate change, and the other half by agricultural abuses including livestock overgrazing and unsustainable irrigation. With acute hunger already a serious problem in Chad and Niger, Mr. Pearson, a caring vegetarian, cautioned that the possibility of hundreds of millions of environmental refugees in Africa and beyond must be prevented through efforts to stop climate change, with the United Nations also urging better water management.
Glen Pearson (M): Not just in Africa but in Asia, over 200 million people will be traveling, moving. They are not going to know where the borders are. It doesn’t matter if I help them catch rain off of the roof, if, on the other hand, I am polluting into my own country, when it’s the people in Africa who suffer from me doing it.
If I really believe in helping the people of Africa, I will stop pumping carbon into the air because that’s the place where it affects the most; because in the end, that climate change will produce 230 million refugees and I am really scared about that.
VOICE: We appreciate Member of Parliament Glen Pearson, Canada and United Nations agencies, for your concerned wish to assist the African people. We pray that through such concerted actions to alleviate global warming and stabilize the environment, precious waters like Lake Chad may be restored.
Supreme Master Ching Hai has often reminded of the changes necessary for averting climate change and humanitarian crises, as in a September 2009 climate change videoconference in Peru.