The Government of Borno State and UNDP, with support of the EU and partners, reopen the Ngarannam Community in northeast Nigeria

After a decade of extreme insecurity and conflict caused by the Boko Haram insurgents, displaced community members return home with a sense of renewed hope for lasting peace and inclusive prosperity.

October 28, 2022
Women in re-opened village Ngarannam
UNDP Nigeria / Tolulope Sanusi

On October 22, 2022, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nigeria joined the Government of Borno State to mark the reopening of Ngarannam village in Northeast Nigeria following decade-long insecurity and conflict with the Boko Haram insurgents. The Borno State Government, in collaboration with UNDP in Nigeria with funding from the Federal Government of Nigeria, the European Union, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, has reconstructed the Ngarannam village as part of UNDP’s Regional Stabilisation Facility initiative aimed at restoring conflict areas with essential services and resources in the Lake Chad Basin region. Designed and developed from ruins, Ngarannam village in Borno State is one of the communities under various stages of reconstruction. 

During the commissioning and handing over of the Ngarannam Community, H.E. Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, Governor of Borno State, expressed great optimism and honour in welcoming home the people and businesses back to Ngarannam. He added, "as Governor, I have prioritised efforts to deliver on our promise of making a difference in the lives of the people of Borno. We have worked with UNDP in Nigeria to rebuild Ngarannam, which includes effort, voice, and input from the people of Borno. The Regional Stabilisation Facility initiative puts the people first."

Government Leaders, donors and UNDP officials, including H.E. Professor Babagana Umara Zulum, Governor of Borno State, Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, Nigeria's Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba; Ambassador Annett Gunther, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Nigeria; Ms. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, Head of Cooperation, European Union; Mr. Joram Bjallerstedt, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Sweden; Mr. Ayindé Soulé-Kohndou First Secretary ECOWAS/Lake Chad, Embassy of the Netherlands and UNDP Resident Representative, Mr. Mohamed Yahya,  among others attended the unveiling of the newly constructed Ngarannam community, marking the completion of the first phase of the project and actualisation of a proof of concept.

Speaking at the ceremony, the Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, said, "Firstly, let me congratulate Governor Zulum, UNDP and everyone who made this commissioning possible. Allow me to also convey HE President Muhammadu Buhari's gratitude to all humanitarian and development partners. This administration will continue to support the Government of Borno and the rest of the Northeast for us to fully stabilise the entire region." He noted.

In demonstrating the development, humanitarian, and peacebuilding nexus, the collective approach and goal of the initiative since 2019 have been two-pronged: to restore the destroyed buildings and infrastructure and to strengthen the relationship between the Government and its people. Restoring the critically required social contract between the Government and citizens holds great potential in reversing the influence of extremism and insurgency. Stabilising the area and bringing back a state of normalcy for lasting peace and security enables communities to be part of rebuilding and development through people-led and people-centred approaches.

Prince Clem Agba, Honourable State Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning for Nigeria, stated that he was delighted to be a witness to the reopening and official unveiling of the rebuilt Ngarannam community. "As the co-chair of the Steering Committee of the Nigeria Window of the Regional Stabilisation Facility, I am gladdened to see a physical manifestation of how our discussions and strategic guidance in the boardroom have translated into this edifice today. It symbolises hope for many, not only in Borno State but across the conflict-affected Northeast." He added.

Centred on inclusion and being responsive to the needs of communities, the reconstruction strategies have prioritised collaborative and co-creation efforts that empower the community members with genuine ownership and pride – where individuals can recover with dignity and move out of dependency. The construction of 564 homes (with another 240 to come), a school, a shaded marketplace with 16 lockup shops, housing for teachers and security forces, government offices and a healthcare facility will serve over 3,000 people. To assure the economic empowerment of those returning home, community members were granted business starter grant support for 250 households and agriculture input grants to support an additional 250 households.

Ngarannam is within the Lake Chad Basin, a region extremely vulnerable to climate change's effects. In response to this challenge and to mitigate climate-induced risks, energy efficiency strategies have also been incorporated into the reconstruction. Each housing unit has energy-efficient stoves, and a greening initiative within the newly constructed community is underway. In addition, two water boreholes are in place and the instalment of 720 solar-powered streetlights and solar-powered government facilities.

"The results that we have seen today prove that the concept of stabilisation works and strengthens society and the state. I'm sure Germany will remain engaged in the stabilisation work beyond Nigeria because other areas also need this assistance." Noted Ambassador Annett Gunther, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Nigeria

Security is a critical priority in stabilisation initiatives. Evidence shows that it costs less money to secure one community area than it costs to feed the same community after 12 years. Independent monitoring has also evidenced that security is critical in determining people's access to services. It has brought fundamental rights back to the people, with 72% of households reporting an overall feeling of improved security and 89% reporting satisfaction with the Government in providing stabilisation support. As a result, security measures to deter intruders, including security out-post and police quarters consisting of a total of eight units, are part of the new community.

"The construction of physical security-related infrastructure positively impacts people's sense of security. There is also a correlation between the sense of security and satisfaction with government performance. Building on the principles of the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus, the European Union will continue to foster long-lasting solutions to the many challenges in N.E Nigeria to bring stability, peace, security and economic well-being." said Ms. Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, Head of Cooperation, European Union.

The centrality of the initiative is to shift the development narrative and ownership for a region riddled by perceptions of marginalisation, disenfranchisement and lack of inclusiveness. The reconstruction ideas and visioning by the community, including a team of creatives, helped bring context-informed social norms and customs into co-creating inclusive solutions and processes that resulted in the re-imagination of social cohesion, security and security rebirth of the Ngarannam community.

Mr. Mohamed Yahya, UNDP Resident Representative for Nigeria, emphasised that after more than a decade of displacement, it was delightful to see people return to their homes and restart their lives. "Stabilisation aims to strengthen the relationship between the Government and the people and build trust between the two. Trust and service provision are key in reversing the attraction to extremism. Our strategies have prioritised efforts to empower the community members with real ownership and pride in their communities by helping them recover with dignity and moving them out of dependency. I believe our work in northeast Nigeria exemplifies how development can be delivered with communities at the centre, not only in Nigeria but for the rest of the region and the world, especially where peace and stability remain fragile." He added.

About the Regional Stabilisation Facility:

The Regional Stabilization Facility (RSF) is a financing facility developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with support from Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom (U.K.), the Netherlands and the European Union (E.U.), to facilitate the implementation of the Regional Strategy for the Stabilisation, Recovery & Resilience of the Boko Haram-affected Areas of the Lake Chad Basin (RSS) of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC). The RSS seeks to restore security and bring relief to communities affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.