By Adebisi Adeyemi Lagos, Nigeria.
The Nigerian government will be seeking global support for its effort to arrest and end the humanitarian challenges in the North east of country and the surrounding Lake Chad region at a two-day international conference opening in Oslo, Norway, on 23 Feburary.
Norway is organizing the conference jointly with Nigeria and Germany, and in close collaboration with the United Nations. Foreign ministers of countries in the affected region, representatives of the African and European Unions, representatives of donor countries, and heads of United Nations bodies are also attending the conference.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who is attending the conference, explained that in recent years, violent conflicts and human suffering have left a devastating mark on north eastern Nigeria and parts of Niger, Chad and Cameroon, leaving the affected areas with degraded infrastructure and serious humanitarian challenges.
“The need for all of us to work together to assist the governments of the region salvage the situation cannot be over emphasised. The Government of Nigeria and the rest of the International community need to pull resources to assuage the situation, to bring to an end this humanitarian crisis,” she stressed.
According to the Minister, the festering humanitarian challenges resulted from a lack-lustre approach to the developments in the region over a long period. In the last quarter of 2016 however, the Nigerian Government, together with partners, came up with the Humanitarian Needs Overview(HNO)for Nigeria , which led to the development of the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and subsequently the Nigeria Mirror Image (NMI) custom-made to assist the government with budgetary allocations and mobilisation of domestic resources.
Given the debilitating nature of the crisis, the Minister said $, indicating however that less than 10% of it is currently being funded,1.054 billion will be requried to fund the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) sign-posting the need for concerted fund-raising to meet targets.
The Nigerian Government, including the six North Eastern States, has already made a provision of N792,685,898,375 (about USD2.6 billion) in the 2017 budget proposals to address, among others, the problems of health, nutrition, education, security and also the reconstruction of infrastructure destroyed during Boko Haram attacks in the region.
She said in 2016, $2.77 billion worth of budgetary resources were earmarked for the same purpose, with needs still remaining high. “The total amount required to fund the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is $1.054 billion. Currently, less than 10% of the plan has been funded, thus highlighting the need for rigorous fund-raising in order to meet targets.”
While she noted that an unprecedented upsurge in humanitarian operations between October and December 2016 saw significant achievements, the Minister also pointed out that there are still some significant challenges including the critical issue of funding. “What we need to succeed in 2017 is sustained engagement and support from all humanitarian actors, improved communication at all levels, access facilitation, human resources and sufficient funding to cover the cost of implementing the HRP”.
Pointing to Nigeria’s commitment to the project, she said further budgetary provisions have been made for 7.1 million people through Ministries, Departments and Agencies. “In addition to that, the Joint Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria 2017 Partners will work to alleviate the most life-threatening needs of 6.9 million people located in the three most affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (the BAY states) of North-East Nigeria. The BAY states have an estimated 8.5 million people in need”, she added.
She disclosed that the UN is in the process of establishing a country-based pooled fund (CBPF) – multi-donor humanitarian financing instruments) for Nigeria. Donor contributions to the CBPF are un-earmarked and allocated by the Humanitarian Coordinator through an in-country consultative process. CBPF’s allocate funding based on identified humanitarian needs and priorities at the country level.