Insecurity in the northeast has continue to increase humanitarian crisis in the region.
The effect of this crisis in Borno state, the headquarters of insurgency, has continue to give birth to several challenges, in health, education and economy among other things.
The government and Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, have been complimenting each other to tackle these issues.
In line with that effort, an international NGO, International Committee of Red Cross, ICRC, has taken a multi-dimensional action to that effect by saving lives and creating jobs simultaneously in a community in Maiduguri, Borno State capital.
According to ICRC, the aim of the project is to save lives, improve the environment and living condition of the people of the targeted community as well as create income opportunities to the population.
What and how ICRC is doing it
In Bolori one and two communities, ICRC are engaging over 600 youths to engage in clearing of 43 kilometers drainage systems and water ways filled with refuses.
The effort, it says is in recognition of the hardship caused by ineffectiveness of the drainage system, which leads to several challenges.
The organization added that the program is also aimed at creating jobs as well as a protective measure against the spread of cholera and other diseases caused by the gutter, which will in turn save lives and resources.
‘This program is about two things, improving of living environment of the population through cleaning the gutters, evacuating water ways and income generating opportunity for the population.
‘We targeted about 630 beneficiaries, that is the workers who will work for 30 days and would earn about 75 thousand naira at the end of the month. The project will run for two months.
‘At the same time, the larger part of the population would benefit from the improved environment,’ Baba Musa Kyari, ICRC economic security officer, explained.
He added that the selection of Bolori one and Bolori two is following a need assessment they made, which informed them of the economic situation and hardship of the community members. He said it is also coupled with the amount of Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, hosted in the community.
As the manager of the project, Mr Kyari also noted that the program is in partnership with the state government through, Borno State Environmental Protection Agency, BOSEPA, who he said has been complimenting effort of ICRC through effective communication with the community as well as direct intervention by mobilizing their trucks to help evacuate the refuse removed from the drainage system and water ways.
He call on the community members to abstain from abusing the drainage system by throwing refuse into the drainage canals, ‘ if these canals are blocked, they are the ones at the receiving end,’ he added.
Shuaibu Bulama, director of finance, BOSEPA, said their agency is there to compliment effort of ICRC and they are also doing their very best in intervention of such community programs. He also commend ICRC for the support they rendered to the state government.
Mr. Bulama however, assures BOSEPA’s continues support to all community projects in the state.
The beneficiaries respond
There are two beneficiaries of the program, the labour workers who are responsible for clearing of the drainage system and the larger population.
The labour workers includes male and female youth and aged ones. According to Zahrah Babagana Bulama, ICRC official, they were selected within the communities.
‘We started the project last week and we have been enjoying support and commendation from the population. The labourers were selected by local community leaders of the areas and their list was handed over to us,’ Zarah said.
Mohammed Lawan, a community member in Bolori said the intervention was unexpected to them and the blockage of the water ways contributed to many challenges in the community. He added that lack of coordination among the community leaders to maintain and report those abusing the drainage system through dumping refuses in it, is what resulted into the challenges.
While thanking ICRC and their partners, Lawan calls on the government to listen and help solve other major problems affecting the area.
‘Just like the evacuation of this drainage system, we call on the state government to come and lay a new road for us as the existing one is already decapitated. It was build during the administration of the former governor, Senator Ali Modu Sherrif,’ Lawan said in a Hausa language interview.
Lawan said, among other things, there is also shortage of portable drinking water supply in the community and urge the government and other intervention bodies to build boreholes.
Goni Modu, an aged man living in Bolori for over 50 years said there is bad maintainance culture from both the people and government on their roads.
‘Since after the building of this road many years ago, there has never been any maintenance effort that is why the road has been challenging. We find it difficult to come out and pray in the mosque during rainy season due to flooding in the area.
Modu said it is difficult for ordinary community members to take actions on those abusing the drainage and hence the need for government to intervene. He added that their community is the host to the largest number of IDPs coming from Northern Borno, therefore they need many interventions from government and others.
Mohammed Ibrahim Adamu, a student and one of the labourers said he engage in the work due to lack of proper job to sustain himself and support his family.
He said he is happy to be part of the job because it is both a source of income and a service to his community.
‘We are paid 25 thousand naira every ten days which will amount to 75 thousand in a month,’ Adamu said.
‘I started two days ago and is being paid 2,500 naira daily. I am a widow and I join this work to cater for my family,’ Hauwa Musa 40 and mother of seven said. She added that her children sell water sachets to cater for the family.
Hauwa Musa mother of six said she also join the work to earn capital to enhance her local business of selling condiments.
‘We have many jobless youth, including graduates in this community who even before this program are helping in maintaining the road and drainage, but we cannot do it alone. While ICRC is doing their part with this intervention, the government should also partner with us the young people of the community, to work hand in hand in maintaining the road, drainage systems and other things,’ Ibrahim Hussaini Zango, a labourer and member of the community, explained.
Zango said while the damage is caused by the same community members, they will not listen to any heed and warnings to stop the abuse from anyone except the government, therefore the government most key into solving the issue of maintenance.