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Rebuilding Borno Communities Ravaged By Boko Haram Insurgency

Chris Uba
By all accounts, the Boko Haram insurgency, which has been ravaging states in the North-Eastern part of the country since 2009, has been one of the most horrifying moments in the nation’s history.
The insurgency, which has mainly affected Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, has left many people killed or maimed, while several communities have been destroyed, leading to the displacement of people in the affected states. This development has been a rising source of concern to many citizens, who are afraid that it may spread to other parts of the country or may spark another civil war.
By all means, the crisis is a very serious one, as the June 2015 Displacement Tracking Matrix, a joint report by the International Organisation for Immigration (IOI) and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), put the figure of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in these states at 1.4 million. Unofficial figure is higher.
However, the recent successes of the military in the war against Boko Haram insurgents have brought some succour to some people who were hitherto displaced from their communities.
The liberation of some communities, which were hitherto occupied by the insurgents, has opened a new vista for state governments in efforts to support the people in rebuilding their ravaged communities.
For instance, the Borno State Government, in its efforts to alleviate the plight of IDPs in the state, recently initiated a plan to support communities ravaged by the insurgents.
The state government, through the Federal Housing Authority (FHA), has commenced the training of the IDPs in the “Rammed-Earth’’ building technology’’ so as to facilitate the reconstruction of their destroyed homes.
“The gesture is based on Federal Government’s directive to the FHA to assist the IDPs in efforts to reconstruct their damaged communities.
“The Federal Government had directed the FHA and Ministry of Lands and Housing to engineer action that will rehabilitate the IDPs; action that will reconstruct their settlements.
“They were also directed to help the IDPs with the new innovative building technology that was developed by the Authority,” said Prof. Muhammad Al-Amin, the Managing Director of FHA.
He, however, conceded that the “Rammed-Earth’’ building technology was an age-old building method, which also involved mixing soil with appropriate measurements of gravel, clay, sand and water to form a damp workable mixture.
“Walls are formed by pouring the mixture into a preformed framework where it is rammed down by hand or a machine, using a tamper,” he said.
Al-Amin said that the technology used local clay, sand and water, which were in abundant quantities in several parts of the state.
He said that the adoption of the “Rammed-Earth’’ building technology would facilitate the efforts of the IDPs to rebuild their homes with little resources, as only a little quantity of cement would be required in the house-construction process.
He said that apart from saving cost, the technology would enable the IDPs to complete the reconstruction of their homes within a short time.
Al-Amin said that the FHA was collaborating with the Housing Aid for National Development, an NGO, in efforts to reach out to the communities.
At a forum, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno, who was represented by the Commissioner of Works and Transport, Alhaji Adamu Lawan, expressed the state government’s willingness to partner with the FHA in plans to actualise the goals of the programme.
“There is no better time than now for this kind of partnership towards rebuilding structures destroyed by the terrorists; we are very happy and grateful for the intervention, which is timely
“As you are aware, most of our local government areas have been destroyed by the terrorists; places like Monguno, Marte, Guza-Mala, Kala-Balge and Dikwa.
“These towns have been totally destroyed, especially Bama, where almost 98 per cent of the houses were ravaged by the terrorists,’’ Shettima said.
The governor said that his administration had created the Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement to facilitate the resettlement of the IDPs who were now returning to their homes.
Besides, Shettima said that the government was willing to partner with the FHA in rebuilding damaged houses or constructing new houses for low-income earners in the state.
“ Government will also take advantage of the `Rammed-Earth’ building technology to reconstruct old monuments destroyed by the terrorists across the state.
“It is an opportunity for us to reconstruct those houses that had been there for over 100 years or thereabouts,’’ he added.
Nevertheless, the governor expressed optimism that the Boko Haram insurgency would soon end, saying: “In the next few months, as the Federal Government has promised, Boko Haram will come to an end and our people will go back to their homes.’’
Also speaking, Malam Muhammad Kanar, the Zonal Coordinator of NEMA (North East), said that the agency would support the programme by providing other materials that were required for rebuilding the communities.
“We will supply cement and roofing materials, while the FHA provides the technology for the reconstruction of the houses,’’’ he said.
Commenting on the programme, Dr Aliyu Bukar, a lecturer at Ramat Polytechnic, Maiduguri, described the FHA project as a welcome development.
“I think it is a good idea for the FHA to intervene and train our IDPs on the `Rammed-Earth’ building technology.
“`Rammed-Earth’ building technology has been around for a long time. In fact, parts of the Great Wall of China were constructed with this building procedure,’’ Bukar said.
One of the IDPs, Malam Bulama Bukar, lauded the initiative, saying it was a good omen of better days coming ahead for the displaced persons.

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