To definitely put an end to the consequences of the Boko Haram crisis and address its root causes such as underdevelopment, poverty, poor governance and climate change, member countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), in collaboration with the African Union Commission (AUC), with the financial and technical support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and many other technical and financial partners, adopted a regional strategy for the stabilization, recovery and resilience of areas in the Lake Chad Basin affected by the crisis. The validation conference ended on 30 August 2018, in the Nigerian Federal capital city, Abuja.
Abuja, 30 August 2018 - LCBC member countries have adopted a regional strategy for stabilization, recovery and resilience of areas of the Lake Chad Basin affected by the Boko Haram crisis and an Action Plan. This was the purpose of the meeting of experts from member countries, followed by the Ministerial Conference to validate this strategy held from 27 to 30 August, in the presence of all stakeholders.
It was developed as a collective and global response to serious concerns about the increasingly odious and abominable abuses of the Boko Haram group in the Lake Chad region: displacement of persons, refugees, destruction of lives and property, human rights violations and the weakening of institutions and the rule of law. This strategy, which is in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2349, aims to facilitate the transition from active military engagement to tackling the root causes of the crisis and streamlining the various stabilisation initiatives in the areas affected by Boko Haram. This strategy is based on an inclusive, participatory, transparent, accountable and rights-based approach and thus paves the way for sustainable peace and development in this crossroads region, today faced with complex multidimensional challenges. In addition, and beyond addressing the threat posed by Boko Haram, it addresses broader issues: the protection of civilians, outlining the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, exploring and promoting relevant tools to address key challenges, such as climate change, promoting good governance, transparency and accountability in both the political and socio-economic fields. Last but not least, it provides the necessary direction for the development of tools applicable at national and regional levels, and facilitates resource mobilization.
In his welcome remarks, the Executive Secretary of LCBC and Head of Mission of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) of LCBC member countries and the Republic of Benin, stated that this strategy “identifies three different but interdependent crises contributing to the same objective: a persistent structural development deficit, a breakdown in the social contract - manifested by anarchy and violent extremist insurgency - and an unprecedented environmental disaster, requiring more attention and resources to curb impacts on communities by helping them absorb shocks and adapt.”
Ambassador Mamman Nuhu recalled that “the drying up of Lake Chad and the consequent loss of livelihoods for millions of producers who depend on it for their daily survival, on the one hand, and the humanitarian crisis resulting from the abuses of the terrorist group, Boko Haram, on the other, have created huge challenges for the affected countries in particular and the international community in general.”
The Honourable Minister of Water Resources of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Current Chairman of the Council of Ministers of LCBC member countries during his opening remarks of the Extraordinary Session of the Council of Ministers, devoted solely to the validation of this strategy, affirmed that with “the gradual return of peace in the region and in order to ensure coordination and harmonization of aid, with the clear aim of reconciling successful military operations with increasing civilian interventions, the need for a holistic regional strategic approach in the Lake Chad region has proved crucial in highlighting the mandate of LCBC and MNJTF.” Engr. Suleiman Hussein Adamou recalled that it is “in this perspective that LCBC, MNJTF and the AU developed a roadmap for the development of a common stabilization approach by all member countries affected by the Boko Haram crisis. It also includes the capacities of government institutions to support a stabilization programme and the role of international stakeholders in supporting this regional stabilization programme.
In his good will message, the Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) and High Representative of the Chairperson of the AUC in Mali and Sahel, Pierre Buyoya, stated that “the political buy-in of LCB countries is crucial to the overall success of the strategy. This notwithstanding, the support of multilateral agencies and international partners cannot be overemphazised. The former president of Burundi thus reiterated, “that the implementation of the strategy requires massive investment of resources by the LCB countries, the AU and international partners. I am particularly gratified that, in a general context of mutual accountability, the strategy gives priority to accountability for results which allows national governments, LCBC with the support of the AUC, to track progress in the implementation of the strategy.
He went on to state that the success of the implementation of the strategy would depend to a very large extent on awareness raising and steps taken to domesticate the strategy within the national development agenda of Lake Chad Basin countries before stating that the AU encourages national governments to mainstream this strategy in their national development agendas, as this would ensure and consolidate the principles of national ownership and leadership.
He also and above all reaffirmed the commitment of the African Union not only to accompany LCBC member countries in the implementation of this strategy but also support them in their praiseworthy efforts to place their region on the ways of the sustainable development: “I am convinced that the implementation of the strategy will have significant political, development and geopolitical impacts in the affected region and around the Sahel region as a whole. It is a formidable tool that is comprehensively tailored to addressing, in a robust and sustainable manner, the key challenges affecting the Lake Chad Basin region, such as climate change and environmental degradation. I wish to commend your efforts to ensure the revitalization of Lake Chad through the inter-basin water transfer initiative. The AU stands ready to support this laudable initiative which will help restore livelihoods in the areas around the Lake Chad Basin. The strategy will further lay a solid foundation for the promotion of good governance, transparency and accountability in the Lake Chad Basin countries.”
In his address at the opening ceremony of the meeting, Mr. Edward Kallon, UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, reaffirmed that “UNDP and all the other agencies of the United Nations system are than ever committed to supporting countries of the Lake Chad Basin and their partners to ensure an inclusive, sustainable and transparent implementation of the regional stabilization strategy and to support the Lake Chad region on the path to sustainable development.
According to the UN diplomat, his organization works closely with the governments of LCBC member countries in their humanitarian and recovery efforts by responding to the needs of affected populations, as the adoption of this strategy falls in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2349 which, among other things, requires regional organizations to develop coherent strategies, able to respond to the underlying causes of crises that lead to the advent of terrorist groups like Boko Haram. Mr. Kallon also stressed the need for efforts to mobilize the resources needed to implement this strategy: “Our task now is to move forward and mobilize the resources needed to implement this strategy.”
As in response, various partners of LCBC and its member countries in this sector, notably the United Nations, the European Union and Germany - which fully assumed responsibility for this conference - took the floor, one after the other, to “commend the strong leadership and full commitment shown by member countries of the Lake Chad Basin in seeking solutions to the Boko Haram crisis”, the others to “pledge their unalloyed support” and “show their good will to accompany the implementation of this strategy.”
The strategy which includes nine (9) fundamental pillars and 41 strategic objectives, will thus address short, medium and long term needs of the region with a view to the stabilization, resilience and recovery of the areas concerned, by involving local communities in the implementation of development initiatives for obvious imperatives of appropriation and relevance.
This outcome is the result of a long process which, over several months, through conferences, technical workshops, field visits or bilateral meetings, brought together experts from LCBC, MNJTF and the African Union, representatives of international organizations and regional economic communities, civil society organizations, researchers, religious leaders, bilateral partners, etc.,
As noted above, this stabilization strategy requires significant human, financial, material and institutional resources to achieve its objectives. It is up to LCBC member countries and their international partners to expunge definitively the repulsive image of Boko Haram in Lake Chad and to give this source and resource its splendour of yesteryears.