The Chad government has lifted a ban on the export of fish from Lake Chad, acknowledging the damage done to the local fishing industry. "We are getting help [with food security], which allows us to give fishermen some reprieve - they need to feed their families also," Communications Minister Kedallah Younous told IRIN.
Fisheries in Lake Chad provide food and employment to at least 10 million people in the region, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The government banned exporting fish in January 2009 to help local consumers beat the rising cost of living, but current cereal and maize prices are still higher than in the last five years. The World Food Programme (WFP) launched an emergency operation in March to feed an estimated 737,000 people after a poor harvest across the country.
"We have lost one-third of our population since the export ban," said Abakar Adoum Bodou Mbami, representative of the chief on Kinaserom, one of the hundreds of islets in Lake Chad. He told IRIN that in the last 18 months the island's population of 9,000 had dwindled to 6,000 because most of the men had gone elsewhere to look for work.
A ministerial delegation visited Kinaserom on 7 June to announce the end of the embargo. "I was relieved. At our weekly market on Tuesday [8 June], we sold fish destined for export for the first time again," Mbami said. "The fish was packed and left the lake for Nigeria on Wednesday."
This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions