| ||On the islands in Lake Chad, the fishermen depend on the waters around them, catching and drying their perch, catfish, and carp, and smoking them in traditional ovens. Chad is a mixture of some 200 ethnic groups who speak more than one hundred languages. The fact that it is an ancient settlement is proved by rock carvings that date from earlier than 2000 BC and show that regions which are now desert country once enjoyed an abundance of water and wildlife. In former times the lake spanned the frontiers of Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Niger, but in the last forty years it has shrunk by 95 percent and is now confined to Chad and Cameroon. Although there have certainly been climate changes, this catastrophe is mainly due to human activity—overgrazing, deforestation, and unregulated irrigation which has siphoned off water from the rivers that feed the lake. Farmers, cattle breeders, and fishermen are all victims of the water shortage, with poor harvests, dying cattle, dwindling stocks of fish, salination of the soil, and, as a result of all this, grinding poverty. The situation is potentially explosive, for it affects some 20 million people in the four neighboring countries.
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