Spirulina, a miracle ingredient in Lake Chad

Spirulina or dihe is an algae rich in protein (60 to 70% of dry matter), in other words 15g of spirulina contain as much protein as 100g of beef. It is used in both human and animal nutrition and even in cosmetics. In Chad, this foodstuff, which is particularly interesting for combating malnutrition, is produced in the "natron" ponds of the Lake Chad basin.
powdered spirulina in a bowl

Spirulina, known worldwide for its detoxifying and nutritive properties, grows in the oasis (wadi) water around the lake. 200 women from the village Artomossi, in the Iserom canton in the Kanem and Lake provinces of Chad, traditionally harvest and process it. Every day, the water from the ponds is collected in iron containers and poured into a spherical tank in the sand. This filters the water and leaves the algae deposits. These deposits are then poured into the sand and formed into cakes of about 2cm. Once dried by the sun, the patties are cut into pieces and the sand is removed. They are sold on the local market or exported to neighbouring countries.

The UNESCO Director-General, Ms Audrey Azoulay, underlines that "Biosphere reserves are laboratories of harmonious interaction between people and nature, allowing for advances in the sciences and in traditional knowledge. They facilitate the sharing of knowledge, promote the interaction between science and society and help bring concrete improvements to the lives of local populations".

In this perspective, the BIOPALT (Biosphere and Heritage) project in Lake Chad foresees the labelling of spirulina. An example of nature-based solutions contributing to biodiversity conservation, poverty reduction and sustainable development in the Lake Chad area where the livelihoods and security of communities are intimately linked to their surrounding biological resources.