The Lake Chad Basin has for a very long period supported the livelihoods of millions of peoples from the different countries that share this transboundary water resource. Its shrinking over the decades has meant that many of those who depend on it for livelihoods would have to adjust to the changing resource environment of this lake basin. This study sets out to examine the seasonal migration of people in search of water, pasture, fuelwood and cultivable land, and how this movement affects access and use of basin resources. The study made use of survey data obtained from 220 household heads on the Cameroon side of the Lake Chad basin, and secondary data from Cameroon ministries in charge of agriculture, the environment, and that of livestock. Our findings show that while fishing and livestock rearing continue to feature among the oldest determinants of population movements in the Lake Chad basin, increasingly the search for new farming opportunities made available by a shrinking lake and the political instability emanating from Nigeria are also becoming an important determinant. The increasing population in the lake region is compounding pressures created by a shrinking lake on access to water, fuelwood, pasture, and farmland. While there is potential to develop and benefit from the agricultural possibilities emerging from a shrinking lake, the impacts of poor agricultural resource management (especially land degradation, loss of agricultural biodiversity, and poor water management) may hamper the sustainable practice of agriculture if proper efforts are not made to address them. This study contributes to the scientific understanding of the changing nature of environmental resources in Africa. It specifically contributes to understanding the exacerbating threats to the sustainability of natural resources (water, agricultural and grazing land) caused by environmental changes, diversification of rural actors (fishers, farmers, breeders), weak resource management, and since 2013, by an armed conflict.
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