Modeste Traore has lived his whole life near Lake Wegnia, in the Sahel area of Mali. The lake’s fish have provided him with a way to earn money to support his extended family.
But as temperatures rise, evaporation increases, making the body of water shrink. Studies have linked rising temperatures on Earth’s surface to climate change.
As the lake shrinks, so do the chances of his children becoming fishermen.
“If things go on like this, I don’t think our children can become fishermen like us,” the 56-year-old told the Reuters news agency.
“During the rainy season, there is a lot of water but as soon as it’s over, there is no water left in the lake. We are fishermen. I don’t think our children will be,” he said.
Lake Wegnia is in the Sahel region of Koulikoro, around 120 kilometers north of Mali's capital, Bamako.
Some 12,000 people, including fishermen and farmers, depend on it for food, water and employment.
But the lake has shrunk by 20 percent since 2017. That information comes from CIDR, the International Centre for Development and Research. Experts from Hydrosolutions Ltd. confirm the findings.
The evaporation of the lake puts a lot of pressure on local communities.
The United Nations (UN) describes the Sahel as “one of the most environmentally degraded regions in the world”.
The UN expects temperatures there to increase 1.5 times higher than the average increase worldwide. UN officials note that the flooding and a severe lack of rainfall can cause problems in the Sahel.
Food insecurity, the fight over farmland and the fast population growth can lead to conflict, although Lake Wegnia has not experienced the violence found in other parts of Mali.
Aid group Caritas Suisse is leading the Eco-Lac Wegnia project. The group is working to improve water management and fight the effects of global warming.
Moussa Savagodo is Eco-Lac Wegnia’s local representative. He told Reuters that failing to make changes quickly could mean the lake disappears completely in less than 5 years.
Villagers in Wegnia and Kononi-Sirakoro have planted 56,000 trees in the past two years. They are better controlling their water by building stone barriers to help the soil keep the rain that does fall.
The progress and international support is not enough for Modeste Traore, however. He is now raising farm animals because he can’t catch enough fish to feed his family.
I’m Susan Shand.
The Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words In This Story
evaporation – n. when water turns to a gas because of heat
Ltd. – abbreviation short for the word limited
degrade – v. to get worse
management – n. the act of supervising or directing something
global – adj. of or related to the whole world