ABIDJAN — Almost nine years since the Boko Haram insurgency began in Nigeria, and while the insecurity in the Northeast of the country remains one of the world’s most prominent protracted crisis, the 2018 Nigeria Humanitarian Response Plan has compiled a range of priorities — providing life-saving assistance layered with long-term development goals and resilience-based solutions for those returning home.
The crisis in northeast Nigeria is expected to improve this year, but experts still regard the region as one in the grip of a protracted crisis where suicide bombings continue, food security remains uncertain, and hundreds of thousands of people are displaced.
The report, published earlier this month, outlines three strategic objectives for 2018 which includes: Offering emergency assistance to the most vulnerable; ensuring that assistance is equitably distributed to women, girls, boys, and men in a manner that promotes the protection, safety, and dignity of those affected; and implementing early recovery strategies and development plans to initiate working toward collective outcomes.
“While nothing should undermine the commitment to principled humanitarian action, there is a shared moral imperative to sustainably reduce people’s dependence on humanitarian aid and support self reliance,” Edward Kallon, United Nations Nigeria resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator said during the report launch last week. “We need to find durable solutions; this requires longer planning horizons, more strategic interventions and flexible, longer-term funding,” he argued.
The 2018 HRP targets 6.1 million of the 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in northeast Nigeria with food, water, shelter, sanitation, protection, medicine, education, and agricultural support. In tandem, an increased alignment with the country’s 2020 National Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, promises to deliver resilience-based activities such as capacity building for local partners and government actors to strengthen national response mechanisms. The $1.05 billion appeal would finance the relief efforts of 60 organizations, including U.N. agencies, national, and international NGOs.
This year’s Nigerian HRP includes a push for a government-led peace-building process that addresses the political and military challenges posed by armed radical groups and a scaling-up and consolidating of humanitarian assistance. The plan aims to help affected people cope with and recover from the immediate impact of the crisis, but also address long-term root causes such as underdevelopment, governance concerns, and climate vulnerabilities.
“What is different about the 2018 HRP as compared to previous HRPs for northeast Nigeria is the inclusion of this multiyear vision,” U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesperson Samantha Newport told Devex. “We’ve tried to really think about what’s going to happen further down the road because the humanitarian community does not want to be in northeast Nigeria forever more.”
Real opportunities exist to make connections between humanitarian and development initiatives and transition humanitarian programming into development programming, the report noted. Where feasible, humanitarian and development efforts will occur simultaneously in a sequenced and complementary manner toward recovery and development, it said.
To financially support the vision that guides the 2018 Nigeria HRP — and this nexus between humanitarian, development, and peace efforts — requires extended and flexible funding, the report outlined. Therefore, the government and the humanitarian community are advocating for donors to agree to multiyear commitments to the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund, an all-inclusive emergency pooled fund launched in February 2017 for the Northeast region. Since its inception, humanitarians have lauded its presence for helping better predict funding streams, coherently deliver program assistance, and facilitating forward planning.
In 2017, more than 5.6 million people benefitted across Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states thanks to the $742 million received in donor contributions, equivalent to 70 percent of the 2017 financial requirements, making northeast Nigeria one of the most well-funded humanitarian response plans last year.
Funding allowed for extensive engagement that led to the reduction of food insecure people from 5.1 million to 3.9 million, improved agriculture production through assistance provided to 1.3 million farmers, and the rapid containment of a cholera outbreak. Although ongoing spurts of conflict continue to prompt population movements and limits access to urban and periurban centers, aid in the form of cash assistance has been favored to spark the re-establishment of homes and livelihoods where markets and movement is possible.
“The idea in these humanitarian contexts where the conflict has gone on for many years, you really want to try and align what you’re doing with what everyone else — government and development supporters — is doing because the point is that ultimately we won’t be here,” Newport told Devex.