REHABILITATION AND RESETTLEMENT OF DISPLACED PERSONS IN THE NORTHEASTERN NIGERIA IN THE FACE OF THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

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There cannot be meaningful development in a state of insecurity and anarchy. The conditions of the North East could rightly be described as nothing less than a state of war. The dreaded outlawed religious group Boko Haram is reported to have started a war with the Nigerian state in the wake 2009 and since then has held many towns in the northeastern state of Yobe, Adamawa, and Borno to ransom. Between 2011 and 2019 territories have been annexed, governance structures sacked, thousands killed and millions displaced. A people who once boasted of being a major supplier of food and agricultural products are now living in displaced persons camps depending on relief from good-minded people from home and abroad for survival. Despite the insistence by the federal government of Nigeria that the militant group has been technically decimated, they continue to cause havoc to the military and civilian population. Between 2014 and 2018, 2800 events and more than 31,000 reported fatalities have been attributed to Boko Haram, making it one of the world’s deadliest armed groups.[1]

 

While much effort and attention have been paid to the fight against the insurgency, not very much attention has been given to the direct bearers of this war. Over 2.5 million people have been recorded to have lived in the displaced peoples camp at one point in time or the other[1]. The displaced persons live under terrible conditions in the IDP camp- conditions that are aggravated by corrupt practices perpetrated by those vested with the responsibility of taking care of them. Instead of being taken care of, they are being taken advantage of. Funds meant to cater for their welfare are being diverted for personal use. There are also records of instances of the rape of young and vulnerable girls by the military, besides the intimidation and solicitation of sex from these girls in exchange for food

.newsletterpic1 Figure 1. Participants at the dialogue to “Repositioning Civic Constituencies for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement in the Northeast

Social action has been carrying out campaigns to promote awareness of climate change impacts in the Lake Chad Basin and to encourage accountability in the management of humanitarian and development spending in northeast Nigeria. This is in direct response to the humanitarian crisis that has left over 7.1 million people in Nigeria in need of urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance. As part of the series of engagements, dialogue and conferences to promote civil society analysis of the humanitarian situation in the northeast, Social Action organised two key dialogue with stakeholders in Borno state in April and July 2019. The conference held on the 2nd of April had the theme “Repositioning Civic Constituencies for Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Resettlement in the Northeast”. The conference sought to open up discussions around the proposed rehabilitation plan of the government with the view to x-raying holistically the content and component of the action plan as well as examine civil society position or perspective. The dialogue also aimed at reviewing CSOs readiness to engage the process to serve as an independent monitoring unit to achieve collective impact.

Social Action program officer, Isaac Botti noted that the crisis is one of the world’s most urgent and complex humanitarian situations and thus the need for participants to engage the theme of the dialogue. He noted that the Federal Government’s plan to move the region away from humanitarian needs to concrete sustainable development is a good initiative if sincerely implemented with the participation of the civil society. He further emphasized the objective of the plan and the need for the civic constituencies to interrogate it, discuss it and come up with a concrete engagement plan and input that will further enrich the document.

In a paper presentation Professor Abubarka Mua’zu, the Executive Director of Borno Coalition for Democrat and Progress (BOCODEP) noted that the process of reconstruction involves partial or total relocation and rebuilding the essential physical infrastructures and shelter.

The conference which had in attendance representatives from the academia, government and non-governmental organisations, foreign and local stakeholders and community groups and persons came to the conclusion that to have an effective rehabilitation plan, there was the need to strengthen community structures to handle mass rehabilitation by involving all stakeholders and imbibed best practices for integration. They also agreed on the need for a serious consultation with other members of the civil society to ensure effective coordination of efforts.

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Figure 2. Participants at the Stakeholders Validation of the multi-sectoral needs assessment

The conference in July was the stakeholder validation meeting to provide the needed nods and buy-in to the reports and findings from the Multi-Sectoral Needs Assessment. The validation workshop had representations of different categories of displaced populations, host communities and key stakeholders that have good knowledge of critical humanitarian and human rights issues in the northeast, to take the feat of checking or proving the validity or accuracy of the process and results of the multi-sectoral needs assessment. It further helped in identifying missing elements and gaps in the needs assessment findings that were addressed in the final needs assessment report and also deliberated on preliminary emerging messages about priorities of humanitarian interventions in Borno State particularly and the northeast in general

[1] https://reliefweb.int/report/nigeria/new-normal-continuity-and-boko-haram-s-violence-north-east-nigeria

RESEARCH/MONITORING OF REDD+ ACTIVITIES IN ONDO STATE

Ossa rain forest

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is an effort to create a financial value for the carbon stored in forests, offering incentives for developing countries to reduce emissions from forested lands and invest in low-carbon paths to sustainable development. In other words, is a scheme that promises to pay cash to encourage forests to be set aside as carbon sinks in mitigating climate change. The scheme which was first introduced to Nigeria in Cross Rivers state has received condemnation from well-meaning stakeholders including the host communities and civil society organisations for its failure to meet up with the initial promised it held. While the locals are prevented and even arrested by the REDD+ enforcement and monitoring task force for taking advantage of the resources of the forests earmarked for this scheme, very little or nothing has come to them as compensation for preserving the forest. This has robbed them of the means of livelihood from lumbering and farming, a profession they have known all their lived.

REDDSocial Action Field Monitoring Team with a local at Osse Forest Reserve

 

When the news of the expansion of REDD+ to Nasarawa and Ondo States broke out, Social Action commissioned a field monitoring of REDD+ in Ondo State with the view of working with communities and relevant stakeholders in the State as it has been doing in Cross River State and an extension of same to Nasarawa State.

A visit to Ondo State REDD+ pilot sites revealed that REDD Readiness started in 2016 and will be ending in 2020. There are 16 forest reserves in the state according to the State REDD+ Coordinator, Mr. David Adesina and only two are being used as pilot sites with a view of expansion to other reserves. They are Osse Forest Reserve and Akure Forest Reserve. While the Osse forest is tending towards savanna, the Akure forest is a complete, thick rainforest. Following approval by the state executive council, a moratorium is placed on logging in these two forest reserves and a joint task force commissioned to enforce it.

In our interaction with the REDD Coordinator in the state, he expressed frustration that no benefit has come from REDD. He, therefore, felt reluctant to speak to communities empty-handed without bringing them financial benefits from REDD+.

After several hours of searching for the leaders in the communities making up Osse, the team was eventually directed to Owani-Idoani where they met with High Chief Akinola Olisa who, incidentally, was the second in command to the overall Chief heading all 6 communities in the Osse Forest Reserve. He informed the team during their interaction that the state promised some sort of sharing formula which will benefit the people but no immediate benefit was given. Though they were promised of some benefits that will accrue to them in the long run, what those benefits translate to has not been made clear to them.

In Obada community Akure, the team met with a community leader Adebayo Waheed who expressed the readiness of the community to work with Social Action. He took the team on a walk into the forest while he explained some activities that had taken place in the area. He said the state forest, where logging still takes place, intersects the Queen’s Plot and we could see a truck with wood leaving the forest.

Obada has Small River that connects the community to the other side of the forests reserve and the bridge is constructed with wood

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Figure 2. Queen Plot, Akure Forest Reserve.

There is a forest reserve called “Queen’s Plot” located in the Obada/Akpamu forest in the Akure forest reserve connected by the bridge. It is said to be where the Queen of England commissioned the first saw-mill in Nigeria and thus reserved as a federal forest park. The historic dilapidated structure that housed the Mill at the time can still be seen there, very closed to a new building being constructed

queen-paek-obadaFigure 3. The historic dilapidated structure that reportedly housed the first saw-mill commissioned by  the Queen of England in Nigeria  

After considering its findings, the monitoring team made the following recommendations

  1. Community Level Consultative Meetings

To organize sensitization programs in each of the two REDD+ pilot sites of Osse and Akure to sensitize the people on REDD+ with the experience from Cross River State. The objective of this meeting is to make them understand the negative impact of the scheme to communities in Nigeria and other countries that have adopted the scheme using the experience of Cross River State where REDD+ started since 2009 as a fulcrum.

  1. Joint Sensitization/Consultative Meeting with Ondo Pilot communities: 

After holding meetings in each of the pilot sites as was done in Cross River State, a meeting should be organized to bring community leaders and people from both Osse and Akure Forest reserves together. At this meeting, three community persons and Odey Oyama, the head of our coalition in Cross River State, will be brought to speak to the community people and share experiences

 

BOILING OVER: Global Warming, Hunger and Violence in the Lake Chad Basin

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Death and destruction in northeast Nigeria Brutal killings, the abduction and rape of young girls and women, mass displacements and hunger, form the reality of life in areas of the Lake Chad Basin that are affected by the Boko Haram crisis.

This crisis was provoked in part by the massacre of defenseless civilians by Nigerian security forces in the northeastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri in 2009. Protests were organized by the Islamist group Jama‘atu Ahli es Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad (commonly referred to as Boko Haram), which escalated into an armed rebellion in northeastern Nigeria that has spilled over into Niger, Chad and northwestern Cameroon – areas that
border Lake Chad. Read Full Report

Boiling Over: Global Warming, Hunger And Violence In The Lake Chad Basin

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REPORT LAUNCH AND PANEL DISCUSSION 

Venue:           Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja FCT, Nigeria

Date:             15 May 2019

Time:              9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

The Lake Chad Basin is the scene of one of the first major international conflicts linked to climate change. Here, the Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in the killing of over twenty thousand people and created a massive humanitarian disaster with over three million displaced and many more in need of assistance. However, as one resident of Maiduguri, Borno State commented, “there was already massive displacement in northeastern Nigeria before the advent of Boko Haram”. The displacement of people and impoverishment resulted from ecological changes and inadequacies in institutional responses which enabled discontent to germinate.

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‘Monumental Disaster’: Call for Action as 2018 Floods Recede, Leaving Destruction and Hunger

‘Monumental Disaster’Call for Action as 2018 Floods Recede, Leaving Destruction and Hunger

Weeks of severe and continuous flooding in September and October 2018 has devastated Nigerian communities, affecting almost two million people, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Major rivers and streams overflowed their banks following heavy rains from July destroying crops, inundating whole communities and causing a major humanitarian disaster. 

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Cross River Forest Communities Oppose Inclusion in California carbon Trading Scheme

Cross River Forest Communities Oppose Inclusion in California Caborn Trading Scheme

Forest-dependent communities in Cross River, Nigeria and local organisations have opposed plans by the State of California, US to include Cross River forests in California’s forest carbon offset programme. California’s proposed “Tropical Forest Standard” would enable it to buy carbon credits from areas designated for the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) such as Cross River State. REDD is a scheme that promises to pay cash to encourage forests to be set aside as carbon sinks in mitigating climate change. In this case, California, with high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, can continue polluting while paying Cross River State to keep its forests to absorb greenhouse gasses. By doing so, California would be offsetting its emissions.

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Flood Victims Rally for Government Attention

Flood Victims Rally for Government Attention

On Monday, 29 October 2018, victims of severe flooding in Rivers State, with the support of Social Action and other civic groups, rallied in Port Harcourt to protest the abysmal response by the federal, state and local governments to the plight of communities inundated since September 2018. Communities in states like Rivers and Bayelsa are among the worst affected by the 2018 floods, which has affected almost two million Nigerians, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

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Citizens Walk Against Soot Pollution in Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s Oil City

Citizens-Walk-Against-Soot-Pollution-in-Port-Harcourt,-Nigeria’s-Oil-City

Social Action joined other citizens groups in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on 19th April 2018 in peaceful Streets Walk Campaign against soot pollution in the city and other areas of the state. The black soot which has since 2016 polluted the city, the capital of Nigeria’s petroleum industry, is believed to result from incomplete combustion of hydrocarbon and related materials. While government agencies have failed to act against the pollution, residents believe that the pollution originates from asphalt companies, refineries and illegal artisanal refinery operators. In particular, the indiscriminate burning of confiscated vessels of crude oil thieves and destruction of illegal refineries by soldiers in the military Joint Task Force (JTF) contribute to air and water pollution. The protestors called for increased and transparent action by the authorities to stop the pollution.

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Monitoring Report: Communities Waiting for Clean-up of Polluted Environment of Ogoniland

Monitoring-Report-Communities-Waiting-for-Clean-up-of-Polluted-Environment-of-Ogoniland

Social Action’s monitoring of Ogoni communities in the Gokana, Tai, Eleme and Khana Local Government Areas in Rivers State in first quarter 2018 revealed that the actual clean-up of polluted sites has not yet started. The delay is continuing seven years after the release of the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) Report on the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, and two years after the flag-off of the clean-up by the federal government in 2016. Our monitoring in Ogoniland also shows that the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP), an agency set up by the Federal Government for cleanup is yet to award contracts for the implementation of emergency measures since the advertisement for the expression of interest by qualified companies in 2017. Thus, the Ogoni people are still without clean drinking water, health audit and other emergency measures recommended by UNEP in 2011.

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