Internally Displaced People ( IDP) camps are not business as usual. I went to Maiduguri, Borno in Nigeria in August 2019 to attend a WASH Coordinator meeting organized by UNICEF and Borno State Government and to visit two internally displaced people (IDP) camps: Stadium #IDP camp and Teachers Village #IDP camp. I went to the camps because I wanted to see firsthand the state of these camps and to follow up on the LifeStraw Communities (LSC) donated by Lifting Africa Clothing under the Safe Drinking Water for Nigerian Communities CSR initiative to assist with the provision of safe drinking water for the IDPs. Access to safe drinking water is a huge problem leading to so many deaths especially amongst women and children in Nigeria and the issue is much worse in these camps.
Borno State is experiencing ongoing violence and instability because of Boko Haram (terrorist group) insurgence and so friends and family thought I was crazy for wanting to go there. I was not scared to go because I had been there twice before and knew what to expect. As long as I was not going past Maiduguri, I was okay. On this trip, I went with Tony Ukaenwe, who is the Coordinator and LifeStraw expert with EnvironFocus Limited and my brother. He was surprised to see how people went on their day business as usual and the town looked normal except for the Army presence around the town and the curfew put in place after 10pm. According to business owners there, the city was thriving as never before because of the presence of foreign workers and the funds been brought in to deal with the effects of the violence.
The streets of Maiduguri and a thriving supermarket within the town
The IDP camps in Maiduguri tell a different story, not business as usual. It’s a sad contrast from the state of the town itself. We visited the IDP camps with Dr. Bala from WHO Nigeria. He was kind enough to take us there and we are very grateful for the access and sense of safety WHO Nigeria provided.
The International Rescue Committee was the INGO working in the clinics of both camps at the time of our visit. The Coordinator at the Teachers IDP camp was Dr. Oreva, while the Stadium IDP camp had Dr. Zainab. We had donated a LSC to the Teachers IDP camp but we didn’t see it at the camp. We were told that the last iNGO, Medecins du Monde took the LSC with them to their next assignment at the El Miskin IDP camp in Garba Buzu, old Maiduguri. They had found it very helpful and it was being used by the Staff and patients. Charles, Head of Medicals will be taking it back to the Teachers Village IDP camp because that was where the donor, Lifting Africa Clothing was advised will be its home. (We always provide donors will full detail of all beneficiaries). At the Stadium IDP camp, the LSC was there and in full use. Both Dr. Zainab and the Community Volunteer, Bilal gave great reviews about the LSC. Bilal is the Cleaner and his duty is to maintain the LSC. He said the LSC is very easy for him to keep clean and he ensures that there is water in it every day for use by the patients. Dr. Zainab and Bilal said they need more of the LSCs in the camp.
l am happy with the reviews given by all parties and look forward to donating more LSCs to these areas through the help of donors. We are grateful to our partners: Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI), Kyari Mshelia, Dr. Kida (Incident Manager, PHEOC, Ministry of Health, Maiduguri) and Dr. Simon (Emergency Operations Manager, WHO Nigeria) for making sure the LSCs got to these Camps. I must also say that most iNGOs in that region do very good work in taking care of the IDPs and any additional assistance given to make their work easier is welcomed by them. We are looking for individuals and organization interested in partnering with us on this initiative and making it their initiative as well. This initiative meets the #SDG 6- Access to clean water , #SDG 3 – Good health and Well being, #SDG 17 – Partnerships. IDP camps are not business as usual but through the Safe Drinking Water Project with partners like Lifting Africa Clothing, we are making a difference. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. More information about the Safe Drinking Water project can be found at www.environfocus.com/waterproject.