ICIWaRM hydrologist, and G-WADI team member, Dr. Kristin Gilroy recently completed a one-month Embassy Science Fellow Position through the U.S. State Department in N’Djamena, Chad. Dr. Gilroy was selected for the Embassy Science Fellow (ESF) position to conduct a comprehensive assessment of current research efforts and opportunities for engagement toward finding science-based solutions to the disappearance of Lake Chad. While in Chad, Dr. Gilroy worked to identify the current status of various research projects as well as key gaps in research and critical analytical information on the disappearance of Lake Chad.
Agencies, institutions, and organizations with whom the Dr. Gilroy consulted include the Lake Chad Basin Commission, African Development Bank, Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the European Union, l’Agence Française de Développement, Societe de Developpement du Lac Tchad, the French Embassy, Ministère de l’Hydraulique Urbaine et Rurale, and the University of N’Djamena.
The Lake Chad Basin (LCB) has experienced significant reductions in precipitation since the 1960’s as population growth has increased water resources demands. Additionally, the region’s dams and irrigation schemes were engineered based on data from a wetter era and are often not operated optimally, altering the hydrologic flow regime of many of the basin’s rivers. The effects downstream have been to subject larger surface areas of water to the region’s high evaporation rates. As a result of these climatic and anthropogenic components, the surface area of Lake Chad has declined by 95 percent and water security issues persist throughout the LCB.
Dr. Gilroy identified numerous potential areas for scientific engagement in the area, including developing capacity building programs for the LCBC and ministries and universities with which it collaborates; collaborating on existing groundwater studies; and assisting in small-scale irrigation projects and water conservation education. She also identified a need to conduct environmental studies to assess the biodiversity within the LCB and the effects of hydrologic variability and water management infrastructure on the multiple wetlands and floodplains that support the region’s economy.
Dr. Gilroy will return to N’Djamena, Chad in February 2014 to continue these efforts.