Call to Action: stabilizing the Lake Chad Basin Region through Regional Approach-Local Ownership

January 21, 2023
Maiduguri, Nigeria

Maiduguri, Nigeria

UNDP Nigeria

Mamman Nuhu (Amb)

Executive Secretary, Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC)

Head of Mission, Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF)

Lake Chad Basin Region:

For decades, Lake Chad has remained a mainstay for the Basin's 45-50 million people, most of whom are fishermen, farmers, herders, and petty traders who depend on the Lake for their livelihoods and economic well-being. However, over the years, the combined effects of the Lake's shrinking and variability due to climate change has resulted in the increasing loss of livelihood for the region.

This loss of support and revenue has led to different types of self-help survival measures, including arms trafficking and the development of a smuggling industry exacerbated by the porous borders between Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad. It has also led to festering violent extremist views, the recruitment of youth by terrorists and other armed bandits, and increasingly violent clashes between farmers and herders due to an increase in cross-border transhuman activities that destroy farm crops.

The multidimensional nature of the crises in the region has strained the relationships in the region. Ongoing resource scarcity, paired with the rise of Boko Haram and Islamic State-West Africa Province (ISWAP), contribute to increased tensions. The crises have additionally led to stalled development, impaired peaceful co-existence of the population, and triggered a humanitarian emergency that has seen more than 10.6 million people in need of assistance, with 6.2 million people facing food insecurity.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates that $2.5 billion is needed for humanitarian assistance alone. Moreover, the cost of rebuilding communities and restoring the social contract between local authorities and communities is even higher.

Ownership and Pragmatic Partnerships

The crisis’ multidimensional, regional and cross-boundary nature means that restoring stability and transitioning from recovery to long-term development requires a unique approach that recognises the transnational nature of the crisis, the imperatives for local ownership, and the pragmatic vertical and horizontal relationships required. It calls for actors and stakeholders to join efforts beyond national frontiers to ensure the “glocalisation” of ideas.

The Lake Chad Basin Regional Strategy for Stabilisation Recovery and Resilience provides the needed strategic and overarching framework that promotes ownership while creating the space for pragmatic partnerships for the region to transition from stabilization to recovery and development. Anchored on a new way of working, the Strategy enables and puts into practice the Nexus approach — ensuring the convergence of humanitarian, development, and peace (HDP) actors within the same framework and establishing coordination structures to address the multidimensional crises in the Basin region.

Since its establishment in 2018, the Strategy has enabled local ownership and empowered local actors to lead stabilisation efforts. Through the Lake Chad Basin Governors’ Forum, it activated an innovative and unique platform for upscaling and bringing local issues to regional and global attention. The Governors’ Forum, which convened its third edition in October 2021,  has led to agreements on critical cross-border interventions and infrastructure, creating further opportunities for cross-border trade and human mobility. Downstream, vertical partnerships with local civil society organisations have also engineered local demands for accountability, the development of innovative approaches for strengthening the integrity of local civil society groups, and projected opportunities for sustaining stabilisation efforts in the region.

Strengthening partnerships across vertical and horizontal lines is imperative for stabilising the region and transitioning to long-term recovery and development.
Mamman Nuhu (Amb), Executive Secretary, Lake Chad Basin Commission and Head of Mission, Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF)

Strengthening partnerships across vertical and horizontal lines is imperative for stabilising the region and transitioning to long-term recovery and development. Over the past two years, the Lake Chad Basin Commission has built mutually reinforcing partnerships that have yielded results at the local and regional levels. One such collaboration is with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Regional Stabilisation Facility (RSF) for the Lake Chad Basin.

Through the Facility, the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and UNDP have helped to restore social contracts and built a new sense of trust between governments and communities. Since 2019, millions of people have benefitted from the Facility. A total of 25 JAPs were delivered from 2019 to 2021, and 31 Joint Action Plan (JAP) sites were active in 2022, targeting 2.6 million people across Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. Approximately 400,000 people, 54% of whom were women, were able to return to their homes and rebuild their lives and livelihoods. Furthermore, a 46% increase on safety and security perceptions across target locations in Nigeria and Chad consistently demonstrates that more and more communities feel safer and more secure. This commitment to supporting communities is observable through the building and rehabilitation of security and justice infrastructures and social service infrastructures, and the provision of housing, healthcare access, and skills building opportunities for the millions of marginalized people, particularly women and youth, in the Lake Chad Basin region.

Despite the changing and fluid nature of the conflict and security situation in the region, the  Facility has also helped to reinstate security and an increased the sense of safety for the affected communities while providing alternative livelihood options to families. It has inspired intra-African political and funding partnerships with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and propelled a vertical collaboration with the International Support Group (ISG) that has attracted global political and strategic alliances to the Lake Chad Basin region.

Adopting a pragmatic approach to partners has assisted the LCBC to mobilise partners across different levels. The evolving partnership with United Nations agencies and funds such as the Peacebuilding Commission, the Peacebuilding funds, and the Inter-Agency Task Force of the Lake Chad Basin reaffirms the relevance of the Strategy as the melting point of HDP actors in the region.

Call to Action for A Renewed Ownership Approach

As we convene for the third High-Level Conference on the Lake Chad Basin, I urge the international community to rally around the Lake Chad Basin Regional Strategy for Stabilisation, Recovery and Resilience as the overarching framework for the region.

Since 2019, the platforms we have created at the LCBC offer opportunities that never existed before. Opportunities for global partnership, regional and local ownership, and an African led strategic visioning for the region.

In recognition of the need for high-level strategic political partnerships, the Lake Chad Basin Commission will continue to expand its reach to political actors and stakeholders through different channels while remaining committed to serving as the fulcrum for political mobilisation of support for the people of the region. I urge the International Community to support the Governors with the Implementation of their Territorial Action Plans (TAPs).

Learn more about 3rd High-Level Conference on the Lake Chad Region.