World Press Photo of the Year Nominee
An orphaned boy walks past a wall with drawings depicting rocket-propelled grenade launchers, in Bol, Chad.
A humanitarian crisis is underway in the Chad Basin, caused by a complex combination of political conflict and environmental factors. Lake Chad—once one of Africa’s largest lakes and a lifeline to 40 million people—is experiencing massive desertification. As a result of unplanned irrigation, extended drought, deforestation and resource mismanagement, the size of the lake has decreased by 90 percent over the past 60 years. Traditional livelihoods such as fishing have withered, and water shortages are causing conflict between farmers and cattle herders. Jihadist group Boko Haram, which is active in the area, both benefits from the hardship and widespread hunger and contributes to it. The group uses local villages as a recruiting ground, and the protracted conflict has uprooted 2.5 million people, exacerbating food insecurity.