The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Wednesday said its decision to facilitate the establishment of the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum was to ensure regional stabilisation, peace-building and sustainable development in the region.
The Forum consists of governors from the seven States and provinces in the Lake Chad Basin region, including those in Cameroun, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
The officials were in Maiduguri, Borno State to discuss and agree on a framework for stabilising, building peace and fostering sustainable development across the Basin considered the epicentre of the Boko Haram crisis.
Diminishing water levels of the Lake Chad, shared by eight countries in the region has pushed an estimated 12 per cent of the more than 370 million people who depend on it for crop and livestock farming, fishing, commerce and trade to abject poverty.
The situation has triggered mass migration, conflicts and crises in the region, including the nine-year long Boko Haram insurgency, which resulted in mass displacement of millions across the region.
The UNDP said the Boko Haram crisis traced to development-related challenges including multi-dimensional poverty has caused billions of dollars in damages to property and disruption of livelihoods in North-east Nigeria.
At the inaugural meeting, the governors highlighted the need for all countries affected by the crisis to come together to tackle the challenges in the Basin.
In a statement at the end of the meeting sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday the governors agreed to establish the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum.
UNDP spokesperson, Lucky Musonda, said the Forum was a platform to enhance joint efforts towards “stabilising, building peace and fostering sustainable development across the region”.
Mr Musonda said the governors affirmed their commitment to use the platform to promote dialogue and cross-border avenues and exchange of information in response to the crisis.
He said the governors acknowledged the importance of human rights in the whole process and agreed to use the Forum to promote stability and peacebuilding in the Basin.
This is in recognition of the role communities and traditional and religious institutions, women and youth play in driving the agenda towards stability and peace, he added.
The Forum would also support ongoing national, regional and multilateral efforts towards stability of the region by the African Union and Lake Chad Basin Commissions to develop a regional stabilisation strategy, and restore Lake Chad waters as part of a long-term solution to ensure sustainable development.
UNDP Resident Representative, Edward Kallon, noted the progress so far to stabilise the region, saying more needed to be done to assure the people in the Basin of safety, human rights, dignity, livelihood, and a prosperous future.
“The crisis cannot be solved through a unitary approach. We must pursue a multi-pronged approach – humanitarian, development, peace and counterterrorism – the triple nexus,” he added.