2019 Photo Contest, World Press Photo Story of the Year Nominee

The Lake Chad Crisis


Marco Gualazzini


18 October, 2018

Former member of Boko Haram, Halima Adam, sits in her home in Ngomirom Doumou, Lake Chad.  When she was 15, Halima was drugged, strapped to a suicide device, and ordered to carry out a bombing in the town of Bol, along with two other girls. When local authorities moved in to arrest them, two of the girls detonated their explosives, killing themselves and severely injuring Halima. She survived, but had both legs amputated below the knees. She now does paralegal work, helping other women and girls.

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.

The project was funded by InsideOver.

About the photographer

Marco Gualazzini

Born in Parma in 1976, Marco Gualazzini began his career as a photographer in 2004, with his home town’s local daily, La Gazzetta di Parma.His works include reportage photo...

Technical information

Shutter Speed
Focal length
24 mm
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

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