By Fortune Abang
The UN International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has promised to partner with the Federal Government to advance its housing construction policy for no fewer than 3.3 million displaced persons.
Chief of IOM Mission in Nigeria, Mr Laurent De Boeck, disclosed this in Abuja at a news conference with focus on the “Housing Design Competition Awards Ceremony” slated for Jan. 25.
The competition titled “Nigeria: Home After Crisis” is organised by IOM through funding from the Nigerian Humanitarian Fund (NHF).
The exercise aims to engage domestic and international design-communities in developing low-cost, incremental, and modular housing solutions for displaced people and vulnerable families in rural areas of the North-East.
De Boeck said the initiative was borne-out of IOM’s measures to ensure strategic vision involving designers, architects, and engineers capable of fostering innovation and providing options for the future.
According to him, IOM Nigeria will work to overcome the shelter emergency with a durable housing strategy to move beyond merely providing housing units and embrace concepts of providing a home.
“Home After Crisis design competition presents the changes we are trying to bring in the way we operate to those in need of protection through shelter, but what we want to change is the concept.
“The country has faced a humanitarian situation in the past decade, particularly the North-East but what we actually want to do in the North-East can be replicated all over the country.
“We have worked with the government in the North-East in responding to the crisis of those non-state armed groups, in the huge displacement of more than 3.3 million people, as well as with the state government.
“Particularly in Adamawa and Yobe in finding solutions for those people facing emergency situations, what we see in progress is the fact that we have to change our approach.
“We have operated a response through camps-like settings; we have worked with the community for them to be welcomed for a period of transition, until they can find a durable solution.
“We believe after years of work jointly with the government at the Federal-State levels, we can come to a juncture; we can change our approach of moving to provision of shelter to building back to the people a home.”
He said that no fewer than 23 million people in Nigeria were in need of a home, adding if the stakeholders succeeded in implementing the pilot programme in the North-East, meaningful growth would be achieved in the country.
De Boeck explained the 2023 ‘Home After Crisis’ design competition which was funded by the NHF brought together 1,600 designers, architects and engineers mostly Nigerians from across 100-countries.
“We have called for an international contest that we have done with the NHF, which is a response to find solutions to the humanitarian situation, the Home After Crisis is a design competition.
“It was launched internationally and more than 1,600 architects, designers and engineers responded to this call with 250 design proposals, while working in groups, a quarter of them were Nigerians.
“This also shows to us the importance that Nigerians abroad still have for their country, wherever they are they want to contribute in identifying a solution for the people who have faced issues in Nigeria.
“It targets challenges at the specific location of the North-East and looks at the rapidly growing population, so it needs to have housing which is adaptable, increasing in family size.
“It must also be affordable for the people and must use materials which are in there, while respecting their environment and ensuring that any of those construction will respect the new laws of states like Adamawa and Yobe.
“Such as centered on environmental protection or the ban on cutting of trees, it must be climate proof because some of the regions are prone to harsh climate weather,” the IOM boss said.
The competition will feature special kits and training for the people to move out of the dependency of humanitarian assistance to promote their self-reliance through collaboration with University of Maiduguri.
According to him, it will encourage the building of affordable climate-proof housing with local materials where safety and property can be guaranteed.
He added that the programme would promote respect for culture and social fabric that provided safe spaces in the society; encourage community residents to live peacefully together in integrated homes and within ancestral society. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Abdullahi Mohammed and Chijioke Okoronkwo