A place to call home

May 7, 2022

Hauwa Kala and her son

For 4 years, widowed Hauwa Kala has been living in the General Hospital Internally Displaced Person’s (IDP) camp in Damboa town with her children.  She was forced to flee her community Kirikasamma because of the over decade long conflict that resulted in frequent insecurity and destruction across the region. 

Hauwa reflects on her experience: 

“We left Kirikasamma because our house was burnt to the ground during one of the attacks” she recalled. “As we were trying to leave to Damboa town, we were ambushed again, and my husband suffered a heart attack and regrettably passed away”.

After experiencing the devastating loss of her husband while navigating a challenging journey to seek refuge, Hauwa and her children finally arrived to Damboa town and were allocated a space in the camp. 

Hauwa and her children in their new home.

Hauwa and her children lived in a small space made with raffia and tampoline, relying mostly on humanitarian aid and support from the local community for food and other day to day needs. The living conditions in the camp have been extremely challenging, with little access to basic amenities as well as frequent flooding and congestion that often cause outbreaks of malaria and cholera. The wellbeing of Hauwa and her children is also limited, with little privacy from others and protection from harsh weather conditions and security threats.

Hauwa explained the conditions of life in camp:

“Life is hard here. We don’t have water or electricity; my children suffer continuously from serious illnesses” she explained. “During the rainy season, the camp becomes flooded, and we live in difficult conditions because the roof of our shelter leaks and our belongings are constantly wet and damp”

Hauwa’s teenage daughter Amina, shares her own experience living in the camp: 

“We are grateful to have a place to lay our heads after our house was destroyed, but at the same time, it is not comfortable” Amina shared.  “For example, myself and other young girls normally shower in a remote corner of the camp we created for ourselves just so we can get some privacy but we are often scared for our safety when we do.”

Although going back home to Kirikasamma is not an option just yet for Hauwa and her family, having a decent living space to call home would help ignite a sense of hope that things will return to normal soon.

Hauwa's former space in the IDP camp

500 housing units in Damboa

To respond to these immediate needs of the community, the Nigerian Government, with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and generous contributions from the European Union, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, launched stabilization activities aimed to help communities across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States build back better. 

Stabilization activities aim to help restore access to basic services, increase security and enable livelihood opportunities for communities that have been impacted and displaced by conflict.

In 2019, Damboa town was selected as one of the communities to receive stabilization support. Included in one of the interventions is the construction of 500 two-bedroom housing units. This is a critical need for both former residents, as well as displaced people who cannot yet return home. It will enable impacted people, like Hauwa, to have a place to live in dignity and begin a new journey towards recovery. 

Hauwa and her family were selected as one of the recipients of the new housing units in Damboa. Walking around and admiring her new home, Amina her daughter, was happy to have a functioning and safe space that her family could call their own. As she unpacked her books, she shared:

“I am so happy about our new home. It is very close to my school, and now I no longer have to walk long distances to get to school, which makes me feel safer” she said.” 

For Hauwa, this is the first step in being able to restart her life again. As there is still much to be done in the region, stabilization efforts act as a starting point in achieving stability and recovery in the years to come.

As Hauwa proudly stood in her new home, she smiled, “Having a place to call home brings peace and stability, it’s the first step to my family’s recovery”.

500 housing units in Damboa