Wednesday, December 13, 2006

4 African countries - 1 (disappearing) lake = 2 country participants to the Expo Zaragoza 2008 on Water

Chad, Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon still share the Lake Chad, but the poor lake (or rather the poor inhabitants around) has apparently shrank by 20 times in the last 35 years. This doesn’t look good. It seems that climate change and human demand for water are the forces behind. However, curiously enough, the most dramatic decrease in the size of the lake is shown in the fifteen years between January 1973 and January 1987. Might be because of the reduction of use of water for irrigation? Might be. Those attending the Expo will know more about it first hand. Out of the 4 mentioned countries Niger and Nigeria will be officially participating. You can see the whole list of participants at the Expo Zaragoza 2008 website (see at

…and the other 2? I don’t know. It might be that were not selected, or simply couldn’t come. Fern├índez Casta├▒o, the Commissioner of the Expo, has explained that due to the characteristics of the International Exhibition, "Expo 2008 cannot house all of the countries of the African region, or in other words, their presence is the result of a previous selection process depending on the different institutional relations and the willingness of each country".

For me, what it matters is that the (collective) African pavilion, with space for 14 different countries, is representative and self-explanatory of the entire African continent water & sustainable development issues.

See on the left the Nasa photo. Quite graphic: the small patch of blue that is now the lake stands in stark contrast to the wide swath of the -according to the study- old lake bed (shown in green, indicating vegetation). More photos at:


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