Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has said its support for the reconstruction of the North-East, despite continuous attacks by insurgents, is as a result of the need for residents of the affected areas to have a life of their own.
UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Charge of Operations Carine Yengayenge made the disclosure in Abuja during the UNDP and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) debriefing session for officials of the Governments of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe on sharing lessons learnt from the experience of Japan and reflection into strategies for recovery in the North-East.
Recall that UNDP and JICA in November 2019 facilitated a learning mission for government officials from Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states to Japan. The three officials visited a number of sites in Tokyo and Hiroshima where they engaged in several experience-sharing activities with the host country.
UNDP said it was an opportunity to learn how Japan successfully implemented recovery process post-war experiences such as in Hiroshima in order to strengthen the capacity of state governments in conflict-affected states.
Yengayenge further said the session was for the affected states to learn from what Japan faced in 1945 in terms of recovery, adding that even during the war and post-war, people needed to continue living.
She expressed gratitude to the Government of Japan for its generous funding and the collaboration of JICA with which the study mission and the workshop were realised.
Yengayenge disclosed that out of the donors supporting UNDP’s projects in the North-East, the Japanese government provided the first funding in March 2016, which enabled UNDP to implement pilot initiatives and create the integrated community recovery programme in the region.
The UNDP Deputy Resident Representative added that, so far, the Government of Japan has generously funded the activities of UNDP in the North-East with the sum of $8 million.
She explained that the UNDP integrated community recovery programme is providing target communities with supports in four thematic areas such as livelihood, access to basic service, local governance, including social cohesion and security.
Yengayenge further said under the programme, over 10,000 people gained access to basic services, over 11,000 people provided with emergency income opportunities with cash for work in construction and waste management and nearly 13,000 households received agricultural inputs.
Yengayenge said: “Even during the war and post-war, people need to continue living. They need to survive, they need to find a way to get their lives and see how they can do something to help their families even if the conditions will be so hard.”
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Borno State, Abba Yusuf, said there was the need for reconstruction in areas that are safe for the return of the communities.
Yusuf, who was one of the officials who visited Japan, said: “People have to return. If you go to Maiduguri and you see how people are put in the camps, it is not a good sight to see. And if there are opportunities that are seen, that places or communities are safe for return, then the government should put things back on track so that people can stay in their communities.”
Recalling his experience in Japan, Yusuf said he spent two weeks in the country, adding that his experience is largely on how local governments are empowered to deliver on the reconstruction of villages and communities around them.
JICA Chief Representative, Okumura Makiko, in an interview with Daily Sun, said although JICA is not directly carrying out activities in the North-East, the Government of Japan through the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria has done so much as far as the North-East is concerned.
She added that besides the North-East, JICA is focusing on power, agriculture, health, amongst others in the country.
“In the power issue, it is a nationwide issue. And in agriculture, we have collaborated with FCT and Nassarawa State on the approach we call the SHEP – Small Holder Empowerment Programme,” Makiko said.