From April 4-5, the PCNI organized a workshop tagged the “North East Coordination forum and PCNI Dashboard Launch” with the theme “Driving Multi-Sectoral Programmatic Recovery.” The event which held at the Transcorp Hilton was co-hosted with the World Bank and sponsored by the Department for International Development. It brought together representatives of various ministries, departments and agencies, representatives of state governments as well as a vast range of partners in the humanitarian and development community with the aim of deepening the coordination of the strategic intervention priorities set forth by the Buhari Plan. The workshop featured robust and incisive discussions revolving around the present and future of intervention programmes in the North East.
One of the emphases that emerged in the course of the event was the need to bridge the gulf between humanitarian and development endeavours. The World Bank Country Director, Mr. Rachid Benmessaoud proposed a surge of high-impact early recovery interventions during the stabilization period while initiating a gradual transition towards medium term recovery and resilience through investments in social cohesion, livelihoods and infrastructure.
Mr. Robert Watt, Head of Regional Offices of the DFID also stressed that the development and humanitarian dimensions of aid work have to be closely linked and proceed on parallel tracks rather than the perception of the former as a stage that should commence after the conclusion of humanitarian work. He called for the adoption of a new approach that promotes a seamless integration and transition between humanitarian and development aspects.
The event also featured more expressions of goodwill by international partners. The European Union said that through the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), it has earmarked 143 million Euros for resilience and recovery efforts in the North East focused on the restoration of basic services, job creation, social protection, agriculture, reforestation and deforestation. The Norwegian representative cited the long history of cordial bilateral relations between Nigeria and Norway and said the latter was ready to disburse $23.3 in aid towards rebuilding the North East.
There was a consensus that the big challenge is not policy conception but implementation. The Borno State Commissioner of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlements (RRR) highlighted the need for humanitarian actors to take due cognizance of the socio-cultural contexts in which they are operating so as to maximize resources and achieve outcomes. He said that “projects should be implemented using a participatory community recovery planning methodology.” He argued that more interaction between actors and beneficiary communities would enable more accurate definition and targeting of needs, and drive the implementation of programmes in such a way that they address the actual needs of the people.
The United Nations team led by the Human Rights Coordinator, Mr. Edward Kallon called for the adoption of a holistic approach to coordinating recovery efforts and humanitarian interventions. Echoing Mr. Watt of the DFID, he argued that the traditional approach of keeping development efforts in stasis until humanitarian work is concluded is now obsolete. According to Mr. Kallon, the envisaged holistic approach would simultaneously address a number of priorities being conducted on parallel planes namely, the continuation of the counter-insurgency campaign, enhancement of political will and strengthening of local institutions, addressing the root causes of the crisis which if unaddressed would lead to long term development deficits, addressing the low educational empowerment of girls and general poverty, confronting the ecological vulnerabilities in the region linked to global warming and focusing on broader governance issues with a special emphasis on human rights.
Mr. Kallon also expressed concern that the quantum of aid resources being mobilized for the North East could be adequately marshaled to impact needy communities. He stressed the importance of building local capacity to absorb the influx of aid resources. He also urged the humanitarian actors and development partners to adequately engage the communities to ensure that they take ownership of programmes and projects.
A number of participants raised concerns about the long term sustainability of various ongoing interventions. The consensus was that the international community’s role is catalytic. Humanitarian and development actors show the path forward but national authorities must take responsibility for the sustainability of various programmes and projects. In his closing remarks at the conclusion of the workshop, the PCNI Vice Chairman, Alhaji Tijjani Tumsah thanked participants for their contributions to the event, reaffirmed the Committee’s commitment to promote deeper, more comprehensive engagement with all partners and to follow through on the resolutions reached during the event.