The Borno State Government, Northeast Nigeria, has begun the resettlement of displaced persons in Marte, an agricultural town on the western coast of Lake Chad.
On Tuesday, the Deputy Governor of the state, Mr Umar Kadafur, led a government delegation supervising the first phase of the resettlement scheme involving over 500 households.
HumAngle learned that Governor Babagana Zulum initially planned to attend the event but the recent massacre of farmers in Zabarmari by Boko Haram insurgents required his presence in the state capital Maiduguri.
In October, the governor inaugurated two committees to resettle Internally displaced Persons (IDPs) from Marte, Kirawa and Ngoshe to their ancestral homes.
A November 2019 visit was the first time a civilian government delegation visited the communities in many years.
The governor’s interest in returning IDPs to Marte is due to the economical and agricultural importance of the area.
Marte used to be a major agricultural community and Nigeria’s main wheat-producing area.
The state government recently held a meeting to facilitate the supply of electricity to Marte and environs in a bid to reactivate the irrigation system and farming in the area.
Marte is part of the areas covered by the South Chad irrigation project, built to channel water from Lake Chad to irrigate farmlands.
The South Chad irrigation project canals are connected to a pumping station at Kirenowa near Marte.
The government is exploring the use of Chad Basin Development Authority irrigation scheme as part of the state government’s efforts to revive livelihoods and build resilience.
The Borno State Task Force on the Return of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons is accelerating the return and resettling of “willing” persons to their communities.
The aim is to decongest IDPs camps and allow returnees to engage in economic activities such as crop farming, fishing and trading of agro-products
On August 2, over 1,200 people returned to their places of origin in kukawa in the neighbouring Local Government Area of Kukawa. Kukawa is currently without humanitarian actors due to the high security risk in the area.
On August 18, the town was attacked with no fewer than 10 dead and hundreds of returnees abducted.
In September, the government resettled displaced persons in the fishing town of Baga in Kukawa on the shores of Lake Chad.
The resettlement was conducted after the reconstruction and rehabilitation of public buildings, residential houses, schools, healthcare facilities, markets and water facilities.
The security around Marte and environs will be a major challenge as a result of the activities of Islamic State West Africa Province fighters.