Seven years of terrorist activities by Boko Haram have let Nigeria devastated. Thousands of Nigerians killed, millions displaced, towns and villages flattened, both public and private property, and utilities severely damaged. The challenge to rebuild is huge and multi-pronged. Many have compared it to the extensive rebuilding that was required in Europe after WWII.
Of course, the first prong is funding. The level of financing needed will go into the billions. Nigeria’s Recovery and Peace Building Assessment (RPBA) pre-financing assessment conducted in alliance with the federal and states governments and global partners, such as the United Nations, World Bank and the European Union estimated that upwards of $9B would be needed for the six states that took the brunt of the insurgency damage in the northeast part of the country. There is support on the horizon from the world community. The World Bank pledged to commit $2.1 billion to the program in the form of low interest loans and similar benefits via their ‘World Bank International Development Agency’. The European Union is also seriously committed to the cause and has pledged to spend millions of Euros. Likewise, the United Nations partners are offering their support, with the United States representative pledging just over $20 million recently.
On the home front, the Nigerian army has stepped up to the plate to also contribute to the relief efforts providing additional funding as well as some of the necessary safety and security efforts that will be needed during the transition. There have also been many more local and organic fundraising efforts. The Daily Trust newspaper raised $1 million in a local fundraiser, and a local group in Chibok banded together to rebuild the school there that is infamous as the site for the kidnapping of 200 girls approximately 2 years ago. Perhaps the most touching are the tiny contributions being made by individual citizens who barely have enough to survive themselves.
The second prong of the challenge is getting folks to leave the refugee camps that provided some level of safety and return to their villages. In many cases, there is still extreme fear of Boko Harem and whether they will also return. And then there is the fear of what exactly they will return to and what the conditions will be in areas that used to be called ‘home’.
Finally, a big part of the problem is actually getting the repairs done. Most building have been severely damaged in the bombing, losing roofs and walls, and then further damaged during the rainy season when the remaining interior and possessions have become water damaged. The infrastructure doesn’t exist as it would in a more developed region where you could enlist a water restoration company to do their part of the repair and then hire other construction services to complete the rebuild. Many of those services are either not available in the region yet, or unable to access the areas due to severe damage to the roads. However, once again the Nigerian army seems to be coming to the rescue, and although certainly not in their list of job responsibilities, they are picking up shovels and doing the work. Once again this also provides the security presence that the returning displaced citizens are looking for, and has empowered many of them with the confidence to do their part in the clean-up, and may be the paving the way to get more and more professional services back in the area as well. It will certainly be a long journey, but the Nigerian people have shown themselves to very resilient, and the desire for a ‘normal life’ again after all the years of suffering is certainly strong.