Two non-government organisations have engaged 200 mostly women returnee internally displaced persons (IDPs) to clean up Dikwa, one of the towns liberated from Boko Haram.
The North-East Regional Initiative (NERI), a humanitarian organisation funded by the USAID, is partnering with another civic group, Cohort for Existential Emergency Relief (CEER), in the exercise scheduled to be carried out over 20 days.
Each of the participating IDPs will receive N3,000 daily for the exercise.
Dikwa, the headquarters of Dikwa Local Government Area and seat of the second most respected monarch of the Kanem Borno empire, is one of the largest communities in Borno State. It was destroyed by Boko Haram insurgents about four years ago. Most of the residents became refugees in Maiduguri, the state capital.
The Nigerian military reclaimed the historic town in 2015 but majority of the displaced could not access their homes until recently when the military declared the area safe for civil populace.
The town needed to be cleaned up before the displaced population are allowed to fully return.
Most of the returnees have also been impoverished as the insurgents not only destroyed their means of livelihood but also burnt down almost every building in the town.
Dikwa is being rebuilt through the joint efforts of the state government and the federal government’s Victims’ Support Fund (VSF), but the town still needs massive sanitation efforts to make it habitable
CEER officials who are to supervise the clean up exercise for 20 days said the initiative was not only designed to clean up the town but to also rekindle the dead economy of the town.
“In achieving these objectives, NERI in partnership with our Maiduguri-based local NGO, CEER, selected 200 youths among the Dikwa returnees and engaged them in the work for cash initiative which entails the cleaning of the Dikwa township with a daily stipend”, said Yusuf Muhammed, an executive director of CEER.
Chairman of Dikwa LGA, Rawa Gana Modu, who led other members of Dikwa community in flagging off the 20 days cleaning exercise, commended NERI for “catering for the needs of the community in terms of economic advancement.
“We also thank you so much for this initiative, especially the selection of women who are the worst affected by insurgency”.
Mr. Modu advised the beneficiaries to bear in mind that they are working to improve their sanitary condition and at the same time regaining livelihood truncated by the activities of insurgents.
“I want to clarify that it is not the wish of our people to depend heavily on support and assistance from NGOs but rather to see to the revival of their farming activities,” he said.
The 200 IDPs were provided with rakes, shovels, trash packers, diggers, wheel barrows, hand gloves, face masks, rain boots, plastic helmets, machetes and other personal protection materials and equipment by NERI.
CEER director said the beneficiaries who were selected from the 10 political wards of the local government area are expected to clean up the entire town within the 20 days time frame of the exercise.
One of the beneficiaries, Yanzuye Lamba, thanked NERI and CEER for the “God-sent” support.
“I am a widow and mother of four children. I want to say that this work-for-cash initiative will at the end of the day help me own a business that will enable me get my only male child to return to school in Maiduguri.
“The coming of this organisation (NERI) is the best thing that has happened to Dikwa community since the military liberated it from the Boko Haram insurgents,” she said.
CEER officials said each beneficiary will at the end of the 20 days exercise get N60,000.
“NERI is injecting N12 million in the 20 days work-for-cash programme to economically empower the youth and women with a view to restoring life and hope in the community,” said Mr Muhammed.
NERI’s core mandate in the three state of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, includes improving stability in North-eastern Nigeria by increasing positive engagement between civil society, communities and supporting vulnerable youth.