Finding hope in the face of drought in Bol, Chad
22 March 2023
The sun beats down on the dusty streets of Bol, a small town on the shores of Lake Chad. As the locals go about their daily lives, the sounds of laughter and chatter fill the air. For many, living here is a constant struggle, threatened by drought, insecurity, and poverty. But against all odds, the people of Bol have shown remarkable resilience.
It all begins with the land. The Lake Chad region, home to approximately 30 million people, has been grappling with the impacts of drought and desertification for decades. Since the 1960s, the lake has shrunk by 90% due to climate change and overuse of resources. The arid land requires significant effort to cultivate and sustain livelihoods, yet the people of Bol have never lost hope. By finding new ways to farm and care for their land, they have learned to adapt to the changing climate and boost drought resilience.
One such solution is land restoration. Bol is one of the many communities along the Great Green Wall and has been actively involved in this Africa-led initiative spanning 11 countries across the continent, from Senegal to Djibouti. With the help of local communities, the Great Green Wall Initiative is restoring degraded land, creating a vital source of income for families and empowering women and youth.
“We have community farms that are supported by the Agency of the Great Green Wall by providing water and solar panels for the people to work the land,” says Abakar Thiéré, Head of the Lake Chad branch of the Great Green Wall Initiative.
Head of the Lake Chad branch of the Great Green Wall Abakar Thiéré
The Sahel region has long faced severe, complex security and humanitarian crises. The Boko Haram insurgency is one of the many threats facing the Sahel region. The story of Hassan Amad Muhamad, a resident of Bol, is a powerful example of the town’s resilience. Hassan escaped a life of violence and found hope and a new livelihood as a tractor driver in Bol after completing a three-year training programme. His story is emblematic of the town’s ability to overcome adversity and build a better future.
Hassan Amad Muhamad
Similarly, the people of Bol have displayed their adaptability and determination in the face of environmental challenges. In response to the extreme drought affecting Lake Chad, they have collaborated with local authorities to develop innovative water management solutions. They have constructed underground cisterns and implemented drip irrigation systems, enabling them to grow crops even in the driest seasons. These techniques have provided essential food and income for families in the community. Central to Bol’s resilience is its strong sense of community. Women, in particular, have formed support groups, pooling resources and knowledge to help one another thrive. These groups have been critical in fostering economic empowerment and resilience in the face of adversity.
“When we talk about Lake Chad, women matter. They are the first to get affected by all the crises surrounding the Lake. Men usually respond to the challenges by leaving. Women stay and take care of everything. Women have development of their knowledge in the face of these adversities, they have been resilience in the face of the challenges,” says Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim , President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT).
Bol’s story is a remarkable testament to the power of resilience in the face of adversity. Through collaboration and innovation, the people of Bol have shown that it is possible to find hope and build a better future, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
This story is part of a series that seeks to shed light on community drought resilience strategies from various regions around the world. By showcasing these often-untold stories, we hope to inspire and share best practices with others facing similar challenges.
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