The United States Government is saving lives in the Lake Chad Basin.
Today, some 7 million people are suffering from severe hunger in the Lake Chad Basin; thousands may have already experienced famine. Malnutrition is rampant, and over the past few years, the region has increasingly suffered numerous outbreaks of contagious diseases such as Hepatitis E, Meningitis, Measles, Cholera, and even Polio.
The United Nations calls the situation a complex humanitarian emergency, a major crisis that is often the result of political instability, conflict and violence, social inequities and poverty. In the Lake Chad region, one of the main contributors to the crisis is the Boko Haram terrorist group. For 15 years now, Boko Haram has attacked civilians in Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Nigeria, causing instability and conflict.
But the crisis is also caused by decades of neglect. A lack of rural development, has left many communities vulnerable to extreme weather events such as floods and drought. Since 1960, Lake Chad has also lost about 90 percent of its water. That means disaster for people whose livelihood directly depends on the lake, such as fishermen and farmers. And of course, there is a considerable ripple effect, as people escaping hunger in one region strain the resources of the areas to which they move.
The United States is committed to responding to people affected by this crisis. Working with our partners, we are helping states and communities prepare for disasters and to help people withstand crises. We also provide emergency humanitarian aid.
So far in fiscal year 2017, with USAID in the lead, the United States Government has provided more than $203 million worth of humanitarian aid to the countries of the Lake Chad Basin. This aid includes food, nutritional supplements, safe drinking water, hygiene kits, and emergency medical services.
Yet the need is great and growing, and in the Lake Chad Basin, people are suffering. We urge our partners and all humanitarian donors to increase their level of support during this critical time of need.