The authorities of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria have agreed to work together to rebuild the Lake Chad Basin. The area has been a hotbed of insecurity due to attacks by the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram and its branches. Officials met in Cameroon’s capital this week and said the region was slowly returning to normalcy, but unemployment was prompting youth to join terrorist groups.
Some 400 delegates from rights groups, funding agencies, UN agencies and the African Union met in Yaounde to map out ways to improve living conditions in the troubled Lake Chad basin.
In a statement, the region’s governors said member states and funding agencies would intensify efforts to rebuild and stabilize the region.
Ahunna Eziakonwa is the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and the Regional Director for Africa at the United Nations Development Programme. She said that many towns and villages in the Lake Chad Basin need to be rebuilt from the ground up.
“Houses have been destroyed, schools have become non-functional, markets, stores have been destroyed. The rule of law is completely destroyed with police stations completely destroyed, so a stabilization program that tries to rebuild the livelihoods and lives of those first of all makes sure that we rebuild the facilities that the police have. serve, for example,” said Eziakonova.
Since the death of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau earlier this year, thousands of fighters from the group have defected or surrendered, according to regional governments and officials of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), the regional military coalition fighting Boko Haram’s insurgency. have make.
The task force, made up of troops from Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, said attacks by its troops in areas controlled by Boko Haram had weakened Shekau’s militants.
Richard Fonteh Akum is the Executive Director of the Institute for Security Studies based in Pretoria, South Africa. He said now is the time to launch efforts for sustainable development, while Boko Haram is clearly in decline.
“What seems normal right now may actually be the silence before another storm of attacks. A few years ago, there was a fracture within Boko Haram, which saw the groups break up and the rise of the Islamic State West Africa province, but at the same time Boko Haram strengthened. Therefore, I think that unless we have a framework allowing for multi-level peace and stabilization, moving towards normalcy and effective reconstruction will be extremely challenging,” he said.
Akum said that to prevent endemic poverty in the region, roads should be improved for fishermen, herders and crop farmers to take their produce to the markets.
The funds needed for the reconstruction efforts of the Lake Chad Basin were not disclosed during the meeting, but Cameroon said it would allocate $300 million to be spent on infrastructure destroyed by Boko Haram.