Since 2009, the Boko Haram insurgency in Northeast Nigeria and neighbouring countries has left over 7.1 million people in need of support, including 1.8 million persons displaced. In addition, there are approximately 226,000 Nigerian refugees living in the neighbouring countries. Now in its eleventh year, this remains one of the most severe crises in the world with millions of civilians subjected to extreme hardship. In Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states of Northern East Nigeria, those forcefully displaced from their homes due to the insurgency now live in camps, either operated by the state authorities or informally set up alongside local communities.
Ngwom is a Nigerian town located in the Mafa Local Government Authority (LGA), in the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital of Nigeria’s Borno State. It was home to 2,374 people and 625 households before the Boko Haram insurgency began in 2009. In 2014, the town was left in ruins following an attack by a group of Boko Haram insurgents. Majority of its residents found sheltered at the internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in Maiduguri, mostly in Farm Center IDP camp and Munna Garage IDP camp or among host communities.
After the rehabilitation of the Ngwom town, one of the major challenges encountered by those returning back to their homes was lack of access to electricity. This was a major challenge to efforts of resettlement and normalisation of lives that had been disrupted by the insurgents. Children were unable to study after the sun goes down, traders that deal with perishable goods found it impossible to conduct their business and above all lack of adequate lighting posed as a major security threat.
Through the project funded by the Government of Japan, UNDP partnered with a Japanese electronics company Panasonic, to improve the living standards of the community by providing them with solar lanterns. This ensured that residents of Ngwom had access to basic source of light, enabling them to carry out their social activities after dusk including children being able to study and do their homework. Customarily, in most villages in north east Nigeria, evenings create opportunities for families to commune together and the solar lanterns allowed them to safely gather together and as the lighting increased a sense of security to their homes.
“With the solar lantern I received from Japan, my family more comfortable as the sun goes down. The light from the solar lantern helps them to engage in their evening chores while my wife and I charge our mobile phones – which means we are regularly in touch with our friends and family. During the day, I place the solar panel on top of my roof or where there is enough direct sun light to charge. I take it back in the evening when the community is getting darker and switch it on to provide light for my family. I’m grateful for this support.” remarked Habu Mohammed, one of the beneficiaries of the solar lantern project.
Hajja Man Chari, a female farmer from the Ngwom also highlighted how the solar lantern has improved her living standards, “Previously before getting the lantern, my children would be scared of the dark and find it difficult to access some parts of the house due to darkness. To ensure that we have light in the evening, before going to the farm, after my children have left for school, I put the solar panel on top of my kitchen roof and allow it to charge until sunset. The moment evening comes, I switch on the solar panel which provides light for me in the kitchen enabling me do house chores. At diner we have sufficient light as we eat our meals. I also use the lantern to charge my phone.”
About UNDP early recovery project:
In March 2017, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched an initiative aimed at supporting the stabilization and recovery of Ngwom, in cooperation with the Borno State Government, the World Health Organization (WHO), and various UN agencies and partners to ensure the quality of basic services provided.
UNDP with support from the Governments of Japan, Switzerland and the European Union UNDP is supporting early recovery and peace building in the conflict-affected communities in the north-east Nigeria. Working closely with local authorities, UNDP is rolling out a series of interventions aimed at strengthening community resilience by addressing the socio-economic and security-related challenges being faced by both the internally displaced people and host communities. The interventions contribute to the humanitarian- development-peace nexus. Ensuring the recovery of these communities reduces the need for humanitarian assistance, prevents recurrence of displacement and lays the groundwork for sustainable peacebuilding.