IT is heart-warming to note that the world has not abandoned the deeply troubled North- East region of Nigeria and the Lake Chad region which face severe threats from the Boko Haram Islamist insurgency and the rapid depletion of Lake Chad.
Two major international conferences have taken place this year alone, seeking ways of bringing succour to the embattled zone. In February 2018, Nigeria hosted the International Conference on Lake Chad with the theme: Saving the Lake Chad to revitalise the Basin’s ecosystem for sustainable livelihood, security and development.
Also, early in September this year, another high-level meeting was held in Germany under the sponsorship of the United Nations, Nigeria, Norway and the hosts, Germany, to focus on tackling the humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad region.
The conference was attended by 27 countries, 24 regional and international organisations and representatives of humanitarian and civil society groups. It succeeded in raising 2.7 billion US dollars in pledges to fund humanitarian activities to cater for the estimated 17 million people affected by the Lake Chad ecological disaster and the Boko Haram insurgency. The USA, Germany, the European Union and the UK were the main donor countries.
With the launching of the Lake Chad Region Governors’ Forum consisting of Nigeria, Cameroun, Chad and Niger earlier in May 2018 in Maiduguri, Borno State (the epicentre of the Boko Haram war) the circles of international efforts to tackle the challenges of the region are widening and solidifying. As Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State observed at the conference in Germany, only continuous strong multinational bonding is required to overcome the twin problems of the Lake Chad area.
Although the funds raised will be administered by the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, and implemented by certified humanitarian groups, it is important that they continue to work very closely with local political authorities such as the Lake Chad Governors’ Forum to ensure that help is delivered to those who need it most. Synergy is key here.
With all these international efforts directed at rescuing the Lake Chad region from its natural and man-made disasters, we look forward to the speedy defeat of Boko Haram terrorists, the complete resettlement of the internally displaced persons in their rebuilt communities and the revamping of schools, health facilities and agricultural activities devastated by the insurgents.
Member-countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission must individually and collectively continue to accord security top priority even after the insurgents are cleared from the area.
A major way by which permanent peace and economic rebirth can return to the region is for the grand plan of reviving Lake Chad to be implemented. Lake Chad’s depletion is the main cause of the region’s crises.