By Bukar Bolori
Mercy Corps and the European Union (EU) have handed over 325 permanent shelters to returnee families in Borno State.
The handing over, which was done last Thursday at Gwoza local government area of the troubled state, is part of the framework of the Borno ‘Maida’ – Early Recovery Programme, which target victims of the insurgency in the state.
The construction of the shelters, according to a statement by Mercy Corps, is part of efforts to provide social protection for the conflict-affected families who have returned to their communities to rebuild and restart their lives under the EU-funded Borno ‘Maida’ – Early Recovery Programme.
The project is implemented in Borno State by Mercy Corps and the International Centre for Energy, Environment and Development (ICEED).
According to the statement issued on Tuesday, Mercy Corps conducted an assessment in November 2018 and mapped out about 1,916 displaced families in urgent need of shelter in Gwoza.
The statement further revealed that after further assessment, 325 most-in-need families were selected for immediate assistance, with majority having their homes razed to the ground or completely damaged, and lost their livelihoods to insurgency attacks, which had many living in makeshift shelters.
It said: “After 11 months’ work of assessing the community needs, prototyping a suitable shelter and construction work, 325 of the most vulnerable returnee households, IDPs and host community members received a two room shelter inclusive of a veranda.”
The statement quoted the Country Director, Mercy Corps Nigeria, Ndubisi Anyanwu, as saying: “Through the construction of these shelter, the MAIDA program has played its part in trying to build a sustainable construction industry in Gwoza in the medium to long term. In delivering this objective, we saw the community leadership taking a lead from even sourcing materials to design to modification. Economic impact was seen where materials were sourced locally, the social impact was seen where the artisans were engaged being and are empowered by taking part in the actual construction and by helping them put some kind of structure to their businesses.
“We appreciate the support of the Borno State Government through the Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (MRRR), who were instrumental in seeing that the community shelter design needs were met. Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) supported the issuance of land certificates to participants, while the International Centre for Energy, Environment & Development (ICEED), a partner in the programme, provided solar home systems and electrical wiring/installations for the shelters.
“Mercy Corps Nigeria is going beyond emergency response and survival to a more sustainable approach through resilience. We would also like to sincerely thank the traditional rulers and the local government leaders and officials for their unalloyed support and collaboration; we thank them for accepting us and for working with us to create this success story.”
Families who had lost their homes to insurgency attacks, living in makeshift shelters and squatting with relatives can now live an assured life in their own homes, free of threats from harsh weather, forceful eviction and overburdening their relatives.
With the crisis entering its 12th year, the European Union is leading efforts to support the needs of the people affected by this protracted conflict and its impacts in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States. The EU recognises the need to go beyond lifesaving humanitarian assistance and start early recovery activities where possible, and to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable.