Chad becomes the first African country to join the Water Convention
IW:LEARN | 2 March 2018
Chad has become the first country outside the pan-European region to accede to the Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes (Water Convention) serviced by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).
A landlocked country in Central Africa, Chad faces significant water management challenges and largely depends on water resources shared with its neighbours — Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. In a context of growing water scarcity, ensuring effective cooperation between countries for the management of water resources is emerging as an increasingly important foundation for sustainable development, peace and stability in the region.
By acceding to the Water Convention, Chad has confirmed its strong commitment to the sustainable management of transboundary waters through the principles and rules of international law. In doing so, the country has also demonstrated its support for the process of universalizing the Convention’s approach to cooperation, which has been gaining increasing interest worldwide, and particularly in Africa.
Chad’s accession to the Water Convention builds on decades of cooperation with neighbouring countries. In joining, the authorities of Chad have further committed to promote the Convention among member countries of basins to which Chad belongs, in particular in the framework of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the Niger Basin Authority.
His Excellency Mr. Sidick Abdelkerim Haggar, Minister of Environment, Water and Fisheries of Chad, explained the country’s situation driving the accession process: “Our country, Chad, is one of the countries having large basins; Lake Chad is the fourth largest lake in Africa. The Lake Chad Basin is drained by two main rivers: the Chari and the Logone, which are largely supplied by tributaries outside Chad. In addition to these surface waters, the Nubian sandstone aquifer system is shared between Chad, Libya, Sudan and Egypt. All these reasons explain the need for our country to join the Water Convention, which provides a framework for cooperation and exchange at the regional and international levels”.
UNECE Executive Secretary Ms. Olga Algayerova stated, “Sustainable water management is of cross-cutting importance for achieving the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. Chad’s accession, the first outside the pan-European region, comes as a powerful symbol of the growing recognition of the tangible benefits that practical frameworks for cooperation, such as the Water Convention, can bring. UNECE stands ready to share with Chad and other countries its experience gained in over 20 years of servicing the Water Convention, bringing countries together to reach sustainable solutions in response to the challenges – and potential – of managing shared water resources”.
Mr. Peter Kovacs, Chair of the Meeting of the Parties to the Convention, congratulated Chad on the accession and welcomed the country among the community of Parties. “Chad’s accession is a ground-breaking development for the Convention and I hope that this accession will motivate other countries to join”, Mr. Kovacs said, noting that Chad had already played such a role among other African countries in the framework of the lake Chad Basin Commission and in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
The process of acceding to the Water Convention has already helped to bring key stakeholders in Chad together to address concerns and priorities for the country’s water management. These include government, including the Ministry of Environment, Water and Fisheries, the Ministry of Production, Irrigation and Agricultural Equipment and the General Secretariat of the Government, as well as parliament and civil society.
Chad’s accession will support improved water management at national level and provide a robust framework for strengthening transboundary cooperation moving forward.
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