Hope returns to Ngwom, four years after being overrun by Boko Haram - Edward KallonMar 13, 2018
Statement read by Edward Kallon, Resident Representative, UNDP Nigeria during the reopening of Ngwom Village, Mafa Local Government Area, Borno [13.03.2018]
It is an honour to be with you here today in Ngwom, a community not so far away from Maiduguri, the epicentre of the nine-yearlong Boko Haram crisis; a community that, like many others, witnessed destruction of both property and livelihood at the hands of this insurgent group.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,
I have been told that Ngwom was until 2014, a community associated with an enviable reputation of being the livestock and grains trading hub of Borno State and its neighbouring States. Its trading influence did not just extend to neighbouring countries of the Lake Chad Basin; Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Libya, but went as far as the Central African Republic.
When the settlement fell victim to Boko Haram twice between 2014 and 2016, what was left behind was unimaginable destruction – about 100 people were killed during these attacks and the entire community was destroyed.
Many public buildings, including the only primary school that served the community, the only healthcare centre, trading areas and other essential public infrastructure were significantly destroyed. In fear, over 2,300 residents from over 370 households of this community fled – today, more than 1600 are registered as IDPs within the State while many more are currently living within host communities.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,
Four years ago, no one would have imagined that Ngwom would be home to hundreds of households again. Four years ago, a 45-year-old woman who lost everything never imagined living in a permanent shelter again, a school going girlchild lost hope of ever learning how to read and write. Four years ago, the hope of receiving medical attention within Ngwom faded along others. So many dreams were shuttered. The list is endless.
Today, because of our shared commitment to helping rebuild Borno State, we are gathered here to give back hope to that schoolgirl and schoolboy, to that old woman, that trader and that youth. A people without hope is as a good as a dead people.
As the lead agency in providing early recovery support to the region, we have invested a lot of resources in making sure that Ngwom and other affected communities bounce back. Together with partners; the Government of Switzerland, the Government of Japan, over a million dollars has been spent in rebuilding Ngwom. We are rolling out an integrated package focusing on strengthening community resilience by addressing the socio-economic and security-related challenges being faced by both the internally displaced people and host communities.
We are committed to meeting the urgent early recovery needs of the affected populations as we lay a foundation for them to be self-reliant the day after the crisis.
Using Ngwom as pilot for our community stabilization programme, we have built 300 permanent houses, one Health Clinic, 288 Market Stalls, a Primary school, a twenty-store shopping centre, and two solar powered water boreholes. Today, these will be handed over to the community. This integrated approach using permanent structures is arguably the first of its kind of in the North East for now – a police station and infrastructure for power transmission are still under construction. Together we are building back better.
Throughout the process we have engaged local labour and provided emergency employment to more than 500 youths, men and women, most of them internally displaced. The income from this opportunity has helped families buy food, medicines and send their children to school in Maiduguri. The rainy-season agricultural inputs we have distributed to over 550 farmers in the community have helped boast household food security.
Our investment in the State is already helping improve human security, promote reconciliation, enhanced citizens’ engagement in service delivery. We are steadily strengthening community self-reliance.
As the tide of the insurgency recedes and people begin to return to the communities, our interventions will facilitate not only easy restarting of lives but also provide a solid foundation for long term development in the area. We remain committed to supporting the Government and people of Nigeria, especially those in crisis-affected areas.
Allow me to end by thanking the Government and people of Borno State for the support after the tragic event that the led to loss of lives of our beloved colleagues in Rann on March 1st 2018. We remembered yesterday, we will continue to do as we serve humanity.
Thank you for your attention.