Archives du mot-clé Lake Chad

Ex-Boko Haram abductees bringing clean water to their communities

In the Lake Chad region, 1 in 3 people do not have access to safe drinking water. The crisis in the Lake Chad region has caused a massive displacement, with 1.3 million uprooted children who face a complex humanitarian situation.  

A new CERF-sponsored project aimed at responding to sanitation needs in communities has brought hope for some of the youth touched by violence while tackling protection and economic empowerment in an innovative way. 100 young people are now learning how to build 1,500 bio-sand filters that will benefit 11,000 community members. The group is also learning how to fix water points, make soap and build latrines in order to improve the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) indicators in this region.

UNICEF Chad/2017/Bahaji

Among the trainees, there are four children abducted by Boko Haram who managed to escape. They are now starting a new life, like Amin Sani*, 17. “Overnight, my brother in law disappeared, joined Boko Haram and started harassing me. He was calling me on the phone all the time ordering me to join Boko Haram and threatening me. He told me that I would make money, that my mother was a sinner, and that I should join him in the fight, “remembers Amin.

“I was afraid that they would come to grab me. I took my stuff and left to my uncle’s place in Niger. On the way, I found some Boko Haram fighters. They detained me in an unknown forest and threatened me. From the first day, I was thinking of how I could escape. It took me 18 months, but I made it safe to the Chadian border,” he remembers.

UNICEF took care of Amin once released by the authorities. Like other 500 children who managed to escape from Boko Haram, he was taken to a transition center before being reunited with his family after a period of transition.

“During my time at the transition centre, I did a training in water pumps repair. When the water point in my village was broken, I helped the technician to fix it and made some money. Now I am learning how to make water filters and I am very proud to install these filters in the communities,” explains proudly Amin. “I have been sick because of dirty water so many times. If people drink clean water it will help a lot. I would like to work in the water sector, fixing water pumps, and build filters myself, even better ones,” he concludes smiling.

UNICEF Chad/2017/Bahaji

With the improvement of the security situation in some of the islands of the Lake Chad, displaced populations are starting to come back. The quality of the water in these islands is very low and over 80% of the population practice open defecation. Water-borne diseases are widespread, putting these areas at high risk of cholera epidemics.

On one hand, this training will help Amin and other trainees to hope for a brighter future. On the other hand, bio-sand filters will help cutting the number of diarrhea cases in half by eliminating 90% of the microbes. In Chad, diarrhea is one of the leading cause of death among children.

Providing clean water is therefore critical in reducing child mortality. The new CERF-sponsored project aims to respond to the immediate needs of the population in terms of access to clean water and promotion of good hygiene practices.

It also integrates protection through WASH activities by providing opportunities to youth abducted by Boko Haram with skills development in order to support them with income generation revenue activities. The main objective is to develop confidence and self-esteem among these young people affected by the Boko Haram conflict and support WASH sector locally.

*Name was changed

 

Including the excluded

Schools rising from the dust in the Lake Chad Region

Bagasola – December 20, 2016. “This is the first time I go to school. There was none in my island. I heard about it but I never imagined that I could attend one day.” Bakoye Adam is a 12 years old girl living in the Bagasola, Lake Chad region. In 2015, because of the Boko Haram related violence, she had the flee the little island where she was born and raised. “Since we left our home, we don’t have many things to do here. We don’t farm of fish like before. One day, the headmaster came to visit my parents. It was easy to convince us to enroll in the new school,” she said, smiling.

In Chad, too many children are still denied their right to education because of factors they do not control, such as poverty, gender or geographical location. Quality education has the power to end intergenerational cycles of inequity and provide children like Bakoye with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life.

“We are many children in class but we all got school books, bags and pens. Last week, they’ve finally opened the water point of the school. Before, we had to go back home running and look for water during recess, it was really tiring.

The Kousseri Public School of Bagasola got a fresh boost thanks to Project of Revitalization of Basic Education in Chad (PREBAT) supported by Educate A Child. Dolgue Noel, 40, is the head master of the school where Bakoye studies: « The construction of 8 new classrooms and the distribution of learning materials prompted parents to massively enroll children in school. There is still more boys than girls but we continue to raise awareness to get out of school children to enroll,” he said, confident.

Visite des élèves de l’école de la paix du site de déplacés de Kousseria, près de Bagasola, région du Lac, Tchad? 
L’éducation en situation d’urgences aide à donner aux enfants déplacés et locaux un sentiment de normalité et de l’espoi

“It’s true that I am a bit old to be in Grade 1. Some children in my class are only 6 but I’m not the only one. For most of us, it’s our first time in school and we help each other, no matter the age,” said Bakoye “ Some of my neighbors don’t go to school. They think it’s too late for them. I told them that we should not miss the opportunity to learn,” she concludes before entering class again.

90% of Children displaced in the Lake Chad region have never accessed education before attending school in this conflict-affected zone. This influx of population has created additional pressure on basic social infrastructure, including schools.

In this challenging context, education is the most powerful equalizer of opportunity. It helps children realize their potential and contribute to their communities and mitigate risks. For conflict-affected children, school plays a crucial role in developing the skills that allow children to flourish later in life.

Started in 2013, the GPE-EAC co-funded project has gradually enhanced the intake capacity of 290 primary schools, through the construction and equipment of 1,324 classrooms making it possible for some 80,000 primary school children to study in an improved physical learning environment.

Visite des élèves de l’école de la paix du site de déplacés de Kousseria, près de Bagasola, région du Lac, Tchad? 
L’éducation en situation d’urgences aide à donner aux enfants déplacés et locaux un sentiment de normalité et de l’espoi

 

 

Sewing to weave links

World Humanitarian Day celebrates the spirit of sharing humanity

By Aicha Chir Nour

« We are 22 tailors and dressmakers from Gamboru Ngala, a small town located at the border between Cameroon and Nigeria. We had a good reputation for the quality of clothes we made, and were well respected in the community. Then one day, everything changed. One morning, we found our names on a leaflet that had been circulated all over the city. It said that the clothes we were making for women were too short. The leaflet was signed by Boko Haram. Fearing for our safety, we were forced to leave. I left for Baga in 2012, and I stayed there until the day of the attack.  »

In Daresalam refugee camp in the Lake Chad region, Jonathan dreams of his previous life. The tailor and sewing instructor has fled Baga on 3 January after the Boko Haram attack, to cross the border and seek refuge in Chad. He is now sharing his skills, teaching sewing to young people in the refugee camp. He told me it is the least he can do. For the young people, it is a crucial skill that could help them earn a living.

Too often, we forget that the first « humanitarian workers » are the members of the community themselves, like Jonathan. In an emergency, they are on the front line because they know their peers, speak the language and often have skills to share.

Learn and Share

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Every afternoon, hundreds of refugee adolescents come to enjoy recreational activities at the Child Friendly Space, like art classes, football games, but also sewing workshops offered by Jonathan. Under a large tent, sitting on colorful mats, girls form a circle around sewing machines cutting different pieces of cloth. The sound of the pedals adds up to the girls conversations and colorful cotton fabrics are scattered on the floor in a lively atmosphere.

I am observing Jonathan leading the class and lending a hand to those that require help. They laugh, exchange, but remain focused on their tasks. One of them, Maimouna, 15, approached me and asked what I was doing here. I teased her by saying that I came to learn sewing with them. « We’re like sisters, you are welcome to join us, » she said, smiling.

Thinking forward

« Most girls wanted to learn something new. I was already teaching adults when I was in Cameroon and Nigeria. This is an opportunity for me to share my experience with these adolescents. They make me forget about all the troubles. And here, I do not feel threatened to do my job,  » Jonathan adds.

« When we come here, we set aside our problems and we focus on what we have to do. We can offer the clothes we make to our relatives and we have fun making them, « says Maimouna, while cutting a yellow fabric. « Those pants are for my little brother, and that dress is a gift for a neighbor who will marry soon”.

“So far, I’ve trained 12 young people, 11 girls and 1 boy. Sewing is a great way to take their minds off things they have been through. It helps them to think of their future. Who knows? Maybe, one day they will become great fashion designers. I’ve heard that there are refugees competing at the Olympics. I believe in these young people. What matters is their will, » concludes Jonathan, confident.

In 2016, thanks to a US$ 3,000,000 grant of the Government of Japan, UNICEF was engaged in a multi-sector response, including interventions in education and Child Protection for conflict-affected children in the Lake Chad region.