Chad is a country located in central Africa, and is bordered by Libya, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Sudan. The Sahara, the Sahel, and the Savanna surround Chad and since it’s mostly forest and desert, the climate is hot and tropical. The north is the driest region and has little rain all year, unlike the southern and central regions that do have rainy seasons. For the most part, Chad holds its dry season and is often windy. Chad is one of the world's poorest countries, and in 2003 over 54% of the population were living below the poverty line. Poverty plays a key role in the country because it contributes to the severe environmental issues in Chad. Also, a largely rural population relies heavily upon the natural resources. The three chief damaging environmental issues in Chad is desertification, the lack of fresh water, and the locust swarms. The effects of these issues have shown as the northern half of Chad has become a desert, Lake Chad has decreased in size and amount of fresh water to supply, and the highly relied agriculture is in jeopardy. Information technology plays a role in Chad to manage groundwater, in food security, and in communications.
“Desertification is the persistent degradation of dry land ecosystems due to human activities and variations in climate,” (GreenFacts). The causes of desertification are mostly socio-economic issues like , “bush fires, mechanical ploughing, over-exploitation of land, overfishing, insufficient crop rotation, over-grazing, and poor irrigation techniques,” (UNESCO). The high illiteracy levels and poor educational standards worsen the situation. Overgrazing, which is when plants are eaten by animals and not left to recover, which leads to the killing of vegetation in an area over time. “Overgrazing typically exposes more soil to erosion and creates an outcome of topsoil loss through wind and runoff erosion,” (GreenFacts). It also unbalances original habitats that can cause biodiversity loss. Every year the population increases by 3% and the food increase in production is 2%, so this means that “food demand are expected to drive the expansion and intensification of land cultivation in drylands,” (GreenFacts). The natural factor that has a part in desertification is the climate. Since the Sahel region experiences long periods of drought, agriculture suffers and causes the exploitation of the limited resources. Desertification turns already dry land regions more arid and desert-like, which causes the bodies of waters to dry up.
The water supply that community in Chad receives is very low and even when they receive water, it most likely is polluted. Lake Chad is one of the main water sources where Chad gets its water from. “Lake Chad, once one of the African continent's largest bodies of fresh water, has dramatically decreased in size due to climate change and human demand for water,” (CIA). The lake has decreased partly because of the drought season and this has caused it to reduce to 1/20th of its size. Only 50% of the population gets access to safe drinking water and most of the water is used for farming activity. It is truly sad that because of poor water distribution, “some women walk for three or four kilometres before waiting for up to three hours in a queue to fetch drinking water for their families,” (UNESCO). Aquifers in the Lake Chad basin are highly vulnerable to pollution and create a serious dilemma for the drinking water supply. The pollution is caused by improper waste disposals and can cause waterborne diseases. The pollution and water shortage also affect organisms and vegetation.
Locust swarms in Chad put a strain in the agriculture. Since 80% of the population relies on agriculture, the insects pose a threat to crops and could possibly damage the economy. “If uncontrolled, a small swarm can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35-thousand people,” (DeCapua). “Swarms of tens of millions of locusts can fly as much as 93 miles a day, and a female locust can lay 300 eggs in her lifetime,” (Sott). These immense swarms can wipe out an area of agriculture within hours. Without food and crops to sell, the economy would fall and deaths are highly possible. According to recent United Nations’ estimates, approximately one-third of the population of the African continent will be forced to abandon their land between now and 2015, to migrate to more productive land.
Desertification is on the top order of importance in environmental issues because it causes the most negative social impacts. Since Chad relies on agriculture and desertification is killing the production, there is a loss of jobs and a migration which causes a weak economy. It also causes treason of the state and a political war. Not only are human affected by desertification, but so are animals because they are losing their ecosystems and habitats due to the unlivable drought and arid conditions. The next environmental issue I choose was the lack of water. Water is very important to live and sustain all forms of life. It would have been my top environmental issue if the population used it for drinking instead of on agriculture. Locust swarms are the least threatening environmental issue because there are now control operations in Chad that use spray and pesticides to control the problem.
Information technology has a solution for the water issue in Chad since it has insufficient access to water, which is considered both a root and result of poverty. “Rational water resource management is a major goal in the context of sustainable development, and especially crucial in a region of scarcity,” (IAEA). Water management can help Chad because they desperately need clean drinking water. Isotope hydrology is used as a “tool in managing water resources,” (IAEA). Since water contains diverse isotopes, “isotopic dating can be used to estimate the origins and movement of water within the hydrological cycle, and thus determine the availability and capacity of underground aquifers and other water resources,” (IAEA). The citizens of Chad should not have to travel far just to get water, so it is very useful to know where there is water so it could be distributed to regions in need.
In order to enhance crop productivity, nuclear technology is used. The nuclear techniques are used in mutation breeding and biotechnology to develop improved crops. “Since 2001, building on the achievements of national TC projects, six new varieties have been officially released- crops with higher yield, improved nutrition, and/or more hardy characteristics for harsh environments,” (IAEA). For the problem of pest control, radiation is used to sterilize the insects, which are let out to mate without producing offspring. These techniques can insure more food supply and less people will have to migrate. The crops will also be able to grow under the harsh conditions of the desert. This technology is considers a success according to IAEA and is being used to its advantage. This form of sterilizing is also being used to treat diseases that the bugs may carry as they affect both humans and livestock, which ultimately hurts the agriculture process.
Information and communication technologies are being used to create internet and telephone services, which will help the infrastructure of Chad. The Central Africa Backbone Program (CAB) used an “existing 1,000 kilometer fiber optic cable along the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline to connect the two countries and Central African Republic” to a broadband Internet network, (World Bank). “The CAB Program is very important…. It will assist countries to strengthen their enabling environment, create competition and, ultimately increase access and lower the costs for end users,” said Mary Barton-Dock, World Bank Country Director for Chad (World Bank). Before CAB Africa had low quality connectivity and also the expense was about 3x’s more than other countries. This innovation will definitely help the economy prosper and will be a big help for the community to actually be more technologically advanced. This new form of technology will allow Chad to be connected to the rest of the world and hopefully get the education and knowledge that they desperately need. There are many resources online that can aid illiteracy levels and also just raise awareness for there needs.
"Africa: Nuclear Technology - Serving Sustainable Development." Africa: Nuclear Technology. International Atomic Energy Agency, 09 Jan. 2007. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
Central Intelligence Agency. "Chad." Chad. 30 May 2009. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
"Connecting Central Africa through Information and Communication Technologies." Chad. The World Bank, 22 Oct. 2009. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
DeCapua, Joe. "Locust Swarms Forming in West Africa." VOA. 23 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
GreenFacts. "Desertification." Desertification. 22 July 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2013.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Combating Desertification. 2002. Web.