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New facilities at the border of Cameroon and Nigeria offer citizens a new zest for life

15 October 2021
Reading time: 4 minutes

Urgently needed infrastructure on the border between Banki in Nigeria’s Borno State and the town of Amchidé in Cameroon’s Far North province were officially opened on Thursday, October 7, and handed over to the community.

Amchidé, in the department of Mayo-Sava, like all the other localities affected by the security crisis caused by attacks by extremist groups, such as Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), more commonly referred to as Boko Haram, and the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), was left virtually devastated.

Extremists committed atrocities that affected everyone in the town. Many community members were killed. Several public and private buildings were destroyed and the town’s economy was left in tatters.

The reconstruction of key infrastructure was desperately needed and was undertaken as part of the Regional Stabilisation Facility for the Lake Chad Basin, Cameroon Window, a project facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with international support from Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom (UK), the Netherlands and the European Union (EU).

The reconstruction of infrastructure included a Customs and Immigration Office, a police station and barracks.

The infrastructure ceremony, co-chaired by Midjiyawa Bakari, the governor of the Far North,  was inaugurated by the Babagana Umara Zulum, the governor of Borno State, Ahunna Eziakonwa, director of the UNDP regional office for the Africa, the director general for Africa at the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Heike Thiele, and Norway’s ambassador to Nigeria, Lein Eliiv.

The handover ceremony took place on both sides of the border.

In Amchidé on the Cameroon side, a new market, the gendarmerie brigade, a police station and a nursery school were opened. Eziakonwa planted a tree at the site.

The high-profile delegation also visited other structures built and equipped by the UNDP, including a forest control post, an agricultural post, a community conflict management centre, an agricultural store and a zootechnical and veterinary centre.

Local authorities said the new infrastructure would enable the relaunch of activities in the border area, which was not only a real hub of economic relations between Cameroon and Nigeria’s Borno State but also for the whole region.

“It is a reality that life has resumed and schools all along the axis have resumed lessons for pupils. The reconstructed institutions are functional. In this reconstruction, the road occupies a very important place and the road will be open from Amchidé to Mora. It will link Mora to Kousseri to serve N’Djamena in Chad. It will serve as a corridor that will help the entire sub-region. It will pass from Maiduguri to here,” said Bakari said.

The UNDP praised these achievements.

“We received the invitation from the governor of the Far North region to observe the work carried out within the framework of the stabilisation project which intervenes within the framework of UNDP support and which are led by the governors of the regions affected by the Boko Haram crisis. We support the reconstruction programme in these areas to improve the living conditions of the populations and help to improve the challenges facing this region,” said Eziakonwa.

The reconstruction of the urgently needed infrastructure was built through the Regional Stabilisation Facility (RSF), led by the Nigerian Federal Government, with support from the UNDP and the donor countries.

“The facilities opened will allow people in Borno State to restart cross-border trade between Nigeria and Cameroon and to feel safer when doing so. It will also further enhance our effort towards the restoration of civil authorities in communities and villages around borders,” said Zulum.

“Through the Regional Stabilisation Facility, we are looking at long-term changes. When we build a school, it will remain for the next 20 to 25 years. The number of attacks have already reduced in areas where we have implemented stabilisation interventions,” he said.

The UNDP said that in Banki, mission delegates visited and met key partners and beneficiaries from the Federal Government and the UNDP RSF, which uses a community-level approach to enhance physical security and access to justice, rehabilitate essential infrastructure and basic service delivery, as well as revitalise the local economy to help communities recovering from conflict build a better future for themselves.

The high-level delegation met Banki community members to get a deeper understanding of priority needs, the key challenges they continue to face as well as their perspectives on the support from development partners.

“Empowering local actors to work together is essential to reach our common goal to foster sustainable peace and development for communities in northeast Nigeria,” said Eziakonwa.

The UNDP said reopening the border and key security infrastructure would aid the return of local authority institutions, help to facilitate the rule of law and security and contribute to the strengthening of the economy through cross-border trade and movement.

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