Enhancing communities’ productivity through the rehabilitation of basic infrastructure in Borno State
Basic infrastructures are integral elements of prosperous living and catalytic to sustainable livelihoods anywhere in the world. Its importance is emphasized in the Agenda 2030 for sustainable development calls for the development of ‘quality, reliable, sustainable and resilient infrastructure to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on affordable and equitable access to all’. Infrastructure contributes in numerous ways to the development of communities’ socio-economic and environment. It contributes to an increase in productivity, which undeniably leads to an improved standard of living.
However, where such basic infrastructures are lacking, the toll the socio-economic activities and communities become undeniably challenging, as personal comfort, livelihood, productivity, and the quality of life is adversely affected. This is the case prevalent in many local communities today especially in the marginalized areas and those caught in prolonged conflict.
Damboa Town in Damboa Local Government Area, Borno State is a town with a peasant population, whose predominant occupation is agriculture: maize, sorghum, and rice cultivation as well as livestock farming. Despite the insecurity and loss of lives and livelihood consequent upon insurgency that swept through the northeast region of Nigeria, Damboa Town has remained undeterred. They have harnessed creative potentials and devised ways to rebuild their lives through the construction of makeshift infrastructures.
The peasant population in Damboa, as a matter of survival, used to go through a dangerous river –infested with crocodiles and impassable during the rains — to access their farmlands. To ensure that they safely crossed the river, the community resorted to a self-help intervention and constructed a wooden bridge. However, since the area is prone to floods, the wooden bridge suffers seasonal collapse during the peak of the rains. Whenever the wooden bridge collapses, farmers are left with no choice than to swim across the river, despite the life-threatening consequences. As a result, this affects productivity and income due to fear of loss of lives and immobility farm produce.
As part of its commitment aimed at rapidly re-establishing basic services, UNDP in collaboration with Borno State Government has initiated stabilization interventions aimed at rehabilitating and construction of essential infrastructure for services like water, electricity, healthcare, housing among others for communities affected most by the crisis. As a result of these interventions, the residents of Damboa town can now boast of a durable bridge and so many other resilient infrastructures that are vital to the development and wellbeing of a community.
48 years old Gambo Alhaji, a rice farmer in Damboa Town, has been affected greatly due to the lack of proper access bridge in the town. “The lack of a proper bridge was a great setback to me and other farmers in this town. we make do with it in such dilapidated state over the years because that is the only way we can get to our farmlands to work and provide for our families,” remarked Gambo.
“During the rainy season,” Gambo continued. “The situation is worse as the river overflows. Often, we remain indoors in the upward of 3 days for the flood to recede, before we can cross over to our farmlands. The sad reality is that this river is infested with crocodile and so, we swim cross over, often praying that we do not get attacked. This has been our plight for years until the intervention by the State Government.”
Riding home on his bicycle, Gambo is pleased with the bridge that has not only granted them easy access to their farms but also has provided them security against floods and crocodile attacks.
“I am happy with this new bridge, other farmers and residents are happy too. We no longer bother about accessibility to our farms as it is now easy for us and our children will not endanger their lives again by swimming across the river. This has provided us with some form of security. Honestly, we are all happy with this development and we appreciate the state government and its partners for this timely and well-needed intervention” adds, Gambo, with a smile.
Established in 2019, the Regional Stabilization Facility for Lake Chad — Nigeria window, is a rapid response, towards the immediate stabilization of the region. Through this programme, UNDP is supporting efforts aimed at resuscitation of food production in conflict-affected communities by providing key inputs to family communities. Funded by the European Union, Germany, and the United Kingdom, UNDP is working in close collaboration with the state governments to deliver three main outputs: improved community safety and security; re-establishment and functioning of essential infrastructure and basic services; and, availability of livelihood opportunities at the household level.
Story by: Amalachukwu Ibeneme, Communications Associate
Edited by Ngele Ali, Communications Specialist