In Chad, the impact of the climate is preponderant for the large hydrological systems (rivers and lakes including Lake Chad). The effects of climate variability and changes on water resources such as the drop in groundwater levels, strong evaporation, reduction in the flow of the main rivers of the order of 30 to 60% and the progressive drying up of Lake Chad, etc., are currently noticeable at all levels. Lake Chad in the Sahel straddles Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon and is home to 17.4 million people. For years, the lake has been supporting drinking water, irrigation, fishing, livestock and economic activity for over 30 million people in the region. It is still the main source of food security and livelihoods in the region, however, a number of risks, including climate change, variability, and aquifer contamination, are threatening the country’s socio-ecological system and public health .
Climate variability and increased water consumption by the area’s inhabitants have changed the water balance within the Lake Chad drainage basin and continue to do so. Since the early 1960’s, rainfall over the basin decreased significantly while irrigation increased dramatically over the same period . As a result of decreased rainfall and increased water usage, the extent of Lake Chad decreased by 95 per cent over roughly 35 years. More recently, water levels in Lake Chad have increased slightly. But the lake remains a remnant of its former self (Africa Atlas). Increased water extraction for irrigation is estimated to be responsible for at least 50 per cent of this decrease, although repeated severe drought is also to blame .
Chad has the third-lowest level of access to safe water and the lowest level of access to adequate sanitation in all of Africa. Water infrastructure is largely undeveloped and surface water resources are limited. The open defecation rate in Chad is 68 per cent, at the national level . With the lack of access to adequate water and sanitation having strong impacts on human health: approximately one out of every five children die before reaching the age of five primarily due to water-related diseases. In fact, less than one in two children has access to safe drinking water, while only one in ten has access to improved sanitation and one in 17 children wash their hands with soap and water. Access to basic drinking water services is at 43% and to sanitation is at 10% .
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, half of this water reduction is because of climate change. The other half is caused by increased use of the inflows from tributaries into Lake Chad for irrigation and to meet the needs of a constantly growing population, especially in Nigeria, Cameroon, and Chad.
Access (or lack of access) to water, sanitation and hygiene contributes significantly to vulnerability structural structure of Chad and affects the health and nutritional situation of the country. In terms of education, water, sanitation and hygiene deficiencies also penalize the development of human capital .
Key policies and governance approach
The Ministry of the Environment, Water and Fisheries and the Lake Development Company (SODELAC) is in charge for and is currently developing policies and, especially, the principles and management plans for water catchment areas in the municipalities.
For instance, the Integrated Plan for Chad’s Water Development and Management (SDEA), an adaptable document on water policy in Chad, was approved on 30 April 2003 and it has six thematic areas: (i)water resources and the environment, (ii)village water supply, (iii)urban and (iv)semi-urban water supply sanitation, (v)pastoral water supply, (vi)agricultural water supply .
In July 2017, the Government adopted the National Strategy for Sanitation in Chad (NSS), which defines its commitment to achieving the SDGs. This strategy was completed in 2018 with the adoption of the roadmap for a Chad free from open defecation by 2030. To reach SDG 6.2.1, one million Chadians must cease this practice every year, between now and 2030. The national roadmap targets 9.5 million Chadians and will cost $160 million; The cost for the first phase (2018-2021) is $17 million .
Moreover, UNICEF is supporting the Directorate of Sanitation for a monitoring mechanism providing information that supports decision-making and the implementation of regulatory and policy documents .he project “Sustainable water resources management of the Lake Chad Basin: Module Organisational advisory services for the Lake Chad Basin Commission” forms part of the programme Sustainable Water Resources Management of the Lake Chad Basin. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and executed by the ‘Lake Chad Basin Commission’ (LCBC), which leverages enhanced planning, cooperation and communication capacities to improve cooperation with its member states.
Successes and remaining challenges
The cross-departmental Internal Experts Meeting and the Water and Climate Coordination Group, which were set up to facilitate cooperation with other institutions from the member states, have already improved coordination at international level and encouraged mutual support among the different actors and the introduction of cross-departmental planning and monitoring of activities, programmes and projects. Thanks to this, it is now possible to draw up strategic annual operational plans 
By November 2018, eleven valleys had been equipped with a total of 64 weirs. The rise in groundwater levels is measurable, increasing feed availability significantly. According to a survey carried out in four valleys in the Wadi Fira region, the project has boosted vegetable production .
Moreover, according to the SDG Indicator on Clean Water and Sanitation, the country is doing well for what concern “scarce water consumption embodied in imports”. In fact, the indicator is on track or maintiing the SDG achiervemnt from a value of 0.21 in 2002 to 0.15 in 2013 (last year available). The use of basic drinking water services for the population remains a challenge, with decreasing scores, together with the population use of basic sanitation services .
With the support of the United Nations system, the country reduced the open defecation rate from 68% in 2017 to 65.6% in 2020 (MICS 2019). This result is the combination of leadership involvement community-led total sanitation approach. By continuing the acceleration plan implemented since 2019, there are 695 out of 736 villages that have reached the status of end of open defecation (ODF) and allowing 414,770 people live in healthy communities in 9 provinces.
Initiatives and Development Plans
UNESCO launched, in March 2018, the BIOPALT project to safeguard Lake Chad and to strengthen transboundary collaboration in the whole region .
There are several CIWA-funded efforts being led to collect water data, including the development of an updated groundwater model of the Lake Chad Basin. In addition, the Remote Sensing Initiative of the Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership (GWSP), is also supporting these CIWA-funded efforts to monitor surface water dynamics and hydrologic predictions are displayed through a user-friendly interface: The Lake Chad Flood and Drought Monitor.
Water and sanitation project in N’Djaména (PEAN) has benefitted 20,000 inhabitants of the Chadian capital benefit from improved access to drinking water and sanitation. The “N'Djaména Water and Sanitation Project” (PEAN), (December 2019 to December 2024), co-financed by AFD, the European Union and RVO, the Netherlands (budget EUR 60 million), operates in these neighborhoods partly inhabited by underprivileged populations, new arrivals in the capital due to a massive rural exodus during the late 90s. The objectives of the PEAN project are to increase the coverage rate of the N’Djamena drinking water network from 30% to at least 45% in 2021 and to strengthen the capacities of the Société Tchadienne des Eaux and ensure the establishment of new management structures for public water points in the peri-urban districts of N’Djamena. The avoidance of CH4 through the installation of 10,000 digesters on farms allowing to reduce fossil fuel consumption is considered in the conditional scenario .
Furthermore, the project “Sustainable water resources management of the Lake Chad Basin: Module Organisational advisory services for the Lake Chad Basin Commission” forms part of the programme Sustainable Water Resources Management of the Lake Chad Basin. It is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and executed by the ‘Lake Chad Basin Commission’ (LCBC), which leverages enhanced planning, cooperation and communication capacities to improve cooperation with its member states .
Goals and Ambitions
Chad is striving to overcome the identified above-mentioned constraints, with gradual external support, in order to achieve the national objectives of the SDEA and the Millennium Development Goals. The actions are an integral part of Chad's policy and strategy documents, including the National Environment Policy, Vision 2030, NDP 2017-2021, to provide access for all to water and sanitation and ensure sustainable management of water resources, The SNLCC's proposed action 3.6.1. (AREA 1: Strengthen the Resilience of Agro-Sylvo-Pastoral and Fishery Production Systems) aims to promote smart agriculture ensuring the control and sustainable management of water to adapt to climate change, and strengthen access to water through the use of solar energy and enhancing the efficiency of water use.
- Organizational development for ensuring the control and sustainable management of water to adapt to climate change,
- Set up efficient and sustainable irrigation systems for agro-sylvo-pastoral purposes, water control and management
- strengthen actions to defend and restore water quality by developing safe urban water drainage and storm-water management.,
- strengthen access to water, the mobilization of water for agrosylvo-pastoral purposes through the use of solar energy and the efficiency of water use.
 The World Bank (2018). Tools for Good Water Management in Lake Chad.
 Coe, M.T. and Foley, J.A. (2001) Human and Natural Impacts on the Water Resources of the Lake Chad Basin. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 106, 3349-3356. https://doi.org/10.1029/2000JD900587