Affected by conflicts and disasters, over 3.5 million Nigerians have been forced to flee their homes, becoming Internally Displaced Persons and relying on humanitarian assistance to survive. Nigeria’s North-East accounts for half of the displaced populations in the country with over 304 camps and over 2,000 locations where IDPs live in host communities across the north-eastern states.
Providing durable solutions has, however, been a priority of the United Nations to end the menace of displacement and reintegrate IDPs into society. The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has rolled out an action plan targeted at taking at least 10 million people out of displacement across the globe, with Nigeria among the pilot 16 countries for the actualisation of this plan.
Implementing Guterres’s action agenda, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Nigeria designed the Labondo Local Integration Pilot project, in the Girei Local Government Area of Adamawa State to provide durable and sustainable solutions to 454 households.
The 15 hectares of land provided by the Adamawa State government with the official agreement between Girei LGA and the UNHCR has 454 sustainable housing with water sanitation and hygiene components, new and renovated blocks of classrooms, a health centre, market stores and a community centre.
Launching the Labondo settlement on June 27, Governor Ahmadu Fintri of Adamawa State expressed his satisfaction with the robust quality of housing and other project elements. Fintiri applauded UNHCR for their role in bringing succour to the IDPs in Nigeria, pledging the support of the government to the sustainability of the project.
“Our people deserve the best – IDPs or not. I urge development partners to remain attuned to the needs of our communities. To the families benefiting, please ensure proper maintenance for lasting sustainability,” he said.
UNHCR’s Representative to Nigeria, Ms Chansa Kapaya, said that the project was designed to contribute to the Federal Government’s holistic approach to durable solutions for IDPs and Nigerian refugees in Adamawa State while addressing the needs of the host community and promoting social cohesion.
Kapaya said that the Labondo project would serve as a model approach which should be replicated across the country to address the displacement situation in the country.
The UNHCR country representative said that the project was funded to the tune of $2.5 million from the Central Emergency Relief Fund, the Nigerian Humanitarian Fund, and UNHCR.
Kapaya said that the new community was a new dawn with a restored hope and future for the IDPs who could now boast of their own houses.
“The Labondo project embodies our shared commitment to sustainable solutions for displaced families. It’s not just about immediate relief, but ensuring a transformative, sustainable impact. This initiative demonstrates the change we can foster when we pool our strengths, transitioning from managing crises to laying the foundations for a brighter, more sustainable future,” Kapaya said.
The initiative has received robust support from the state government and local authorities, as well as partner organisations. In a bid to empower beneficiaries, they were equipped with construction skills for hands-on involvement in the project, as well as given access to farmland with essential tools and seeds.
The IDPs were also provided with agricultural extension services and micro-finance training to aid them in kick-starting small businesses, thereby creating a sustainable source of income for their families.
The welcoming spirit of the Girei Local Government Area was exemplified by the words of the Madawaki, District Head, Mohammed Yahaya. Yahaya emphasised the peaceful nature of his community and expressed expectations of harmony with the newly settled families.
Yahaya said, “We pride ourselves on our peaceful coexistence here in Girei LGA, and we hope that our new brothers and sisters will help maintain this tranquillity. We are grateful to UNHCR for their efforts, as their goodwill benefits not only the displaced but also our local community.” Already settling into their homes with smiles and joy that have no bounds, just like the other beneficiaries, 32-year-old Hauwa Abubakar, who fled when the terrorist attacked her home in Michika, Adamawa State, said that she feels “born again.”
“I have begun a new life here, and I will not be returning to my ancestral village of Michika, “Going back would only intensify my trauma,” Abubakar stated. The Labondo Local Integration Project epitomises the transformative potential when different actors synergise their strengths, expertise, and resources.
This collaborative effort can alter the narrative of displacement, transitioning from mere crisis management to the construction of a brighter, more sustainable future.