INTERVIEW Issue 007
Examination of Drought Conditions in Lake Chad Basin, West Africa
Churchill Okonkwo, interviewed by Gwendolyn S. Bethea, Ph.D.
Churchill Okonkwo, M.A, Ph.D. Candidate, Atmospheric Sciences
Churchill Okonkwo is a PhD candidate in Atmospheric Sciences at Howard University and a Research Assistant at Beltsville Center for Climate System Observation.
Okonkwo recently discussed his research with editor, Gwendolyn S. Bethea, Ph.D. The online interview follows.
Q: What sparked your interest in your current research on the drought conditions in the Lake Chad Basin in West Africa?
Okonkwo: Despite the attention generated by the desecration of Lake Chad, little attention has been paid to analyzing and detecting whether the dramatic drop in its size and level is an indicator of a shift in drought patterns. This understanding is important since Lake Chad wetlands represent a threatened ecosystem that sustains life through the provision of critical services like fishing, water for irrigation and biodiversity.
Q: Would you describe your research?
Okonkwo: I approached the challenges of sustainability in the Lake Chad region by examining the complexity in the linked human and climatic factors that drive LC level variability with a research approach that transcends disciplinary boundaries and informs public policy.
Q: What are some of your significant findings?
Okonkwo: Analysis of anthropogenic dynamics that drive Lake Chad level variability suggests that with a projected population of 51 million in 2015 rising to about 80 million by 2030, the Lake Chad (LC) watershed will be significantly impacted. The spatial characteristic of anthropogenic footprint within the Lake Chad Basin shows that sustaining water services will continue to be a problem. The anthropogenic hotspot map generated is thus a useful tool for policy makers to target areas of rapid change with the greatest impact on the size of LC.