WEST AFRICA – The World Bank has approved a total of US$346 million for two projects in the Lake Chad region covering Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger Republic, in a bid to strengthen resilience and livelihoods.  

The prevailing security situation in the region has hindered over 49 million people from attaining their livelihoods in fishing, livestock farming, and agriculture.  

The bank said in a statement that the projects, which are to be financed through the International Development Association (IDA), a member of the World Bank Group, which offers concessional loans and grants to the world’s poorest developing countries.  

The World Bank stated that the Lake Chad region suffers from poor development and economic indicators compared to the averages in other areas in the four countries.  

There are significant gaps in infrastructure, poor access to basic services, while natural resources and livelihoods are severely impacted by climate change.  

It noted that since 2009, the situation in the region had been worsened by insecurity due to the activities of insurgents.  

The World Bank Director of Regional Integration for Africa, Ms. Deborah Wetzel, said the Lake Chad region remains a priority area of engagement as a result of the common nature of the challenges faced by the sub-region and the huge potential for regional cooperation.  

The Multi-Sectoral Crisis Recovery Project (MCRP) for North Eastern Nigeria, Additional Financing (AF) for which the bank allocated US$176 million, will help the Federal Government of Nigeria to improve access to basic services and livelihood opportunities for crisis-affected communities in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.  

According to the bank, it will also enhance coordination among the states and other Lake Chad countries, adding that it will expand the ongoing US$200 million MCRP project and ensure enhanced emphasis on support for agricultural livelihoods and investment.  

The MCRP AF will provide support for labour-intensive approaches and works programs, promote rural and regional connectivity, rehabilitate market infrastructure, and prioritise climate change adaptation and mitigation.  

The project will also expand its education and health activities by providing grants to school committees and incentives to returning teachers.  

The statement added that PROLAC will contribute to the rehabilitation of rural roads and small transport infrastructure, and promote productive investments in the affected areas.  

PROLAC and MCRP are aligned with existing regional and national strategies, including the World Bank’s Regional Integration and Cooperation Assistance Strategy which promotes collective actions to address the risks of regional economic contagion, fragility, epidemic, and climate hot spots.  

The two newly-approved operations will focus on enhancing regional collaboration among the four countries to support communities close to the shore of Lake Chad.  

The projects are also aimed at improving the living conditions of the population, including vulnerable women and youth who face the negative impacts of climate change and suffer from insecurity.  

Wetzel stressed that the Lake Chad region remains a priority area of engagement occasioned by the common nature of the challenges confronting the sub-region and the huge potential for regional cooperation.  

“The framework being created by both PROLAC and the MCRP AF will lay the foundation for future regional and coordinated investments that will improve access to regional markets, promote value-chains development and revive cross-border and regional trade,” Wetzel said.