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Lake Fitri Management Plan Pilot Project

Information on Lake Fitri Management Plan Pilot Project

Lake Fitri

 A normally permanent, freshwater, Sahelian lake, fed by seasonal rainfall and runoff from the seasonal Batha river, Lake Fitri, in Chad, has a surface area of 30,000 ha during the dry season and is part of a larger biosphere reserve covering 195,000 ha. In 1987, the lake was designated a Ramsar site, and in 1990 a biosphere reserve. Unlike Lake Chad, Lake Fitri is one of the very few Sahelian water bodies that has yet to undergo a large-scale hydrological change, though it became desiccated in 1984-85 during a period of severe drought.

Dependency upon Lake Fitri

It is considered to be a mini Lake Chad because of similarities, such as being an inland lake heavily dependent upon inflows from one river, and its economic and ecological importance. Up to 50,000 seasonal grazers and their livestock spend the dry season (November-June) around the lake. The lake also supports a productive fishery, with an annual catch in excess of 3,000 tons. Lake Fitri is of international importance as a wintering area for water birds and as a drought refuge for Afrotropical species, and is important for elephants during the dry season.

Pressure upon Lake Fitri

However, Lake Fitri’s ecosystem is coming under increasing pressure from the different users - pastoralists, agriculturists and fishermen who are also conflicting over use of the lake, especially during droughts. The most significant potential threat to the site's ecological character comes from the cumulative impact of small dykes and dams diverting seasonal runoff and river flow into the lake. With a high potential for degradation and conflict, there is a clear need to develop new regulation and access rules. Fortunately, Lake Fitri is within the Sultanate of Yao, which is a strong and widely respected traditional institution.

Project's Objectives

The pilot project’s primary focus is to safeguard the ecological system and mitigate the conflicts arising from use of the lake’s water resources, support is to be provided to the Government of Chad to manage the wider biosphere reserve. The pilot project has the following aims:

  1. (i) To obtain consensus on the future management of the Lake Fitri ecosystem, based on the interests of local population groups and (international) conservation values;
    (ii) To identify threats to the Lake Fitri catchment and solutions to mitigate; and
    (iii) To demonstrate the “cross-pollination function” of conservation and development, in the context of a small water body in Sahelian Chad.

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