First experts with the Lake Chad Basin project. From left: Slim Bacha, Eliane Uwera Bukuzagara , Karolina Olofsson and Janvier Ntalindwa. Back: Felix Muhigana, NORCAP Project Manager. (Photo: Ingrid Prestetun/NORCAP)
Read caption First experts with the Lake Chad Basin project. From left: Slim Florian Bacha, Eliane Uwera Bukuzagara , Karolina Olofsson and Janvier Ntalindwa. Back: Felix Muhigana, NORCAP Project Manager. (Photo: Ingrid Prestetun/NORCAP)

Empowering the first responders

Ida Sem Fossvik|Published 03. May 2018
In most countries, civil society organisations are the first to respond to a crisis. For the first time, NORCAP joins forces with the Civil Society Network in the Lake Chad basin and resident UN agencies, to build capacity and empower local organisations in crisis response. The project is funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"According to the Grand Bargain commitments, there is a need for more direct support and funding to local and national responders. Through this project, we will strengthen civil society organisations' capacity to respond professionally to humanitarian crises, and better help people affected," says Felix Muhigana, NORCAP Project Manager.

Close to 17 million people are affected by the humanitarian emergency across the four Lake Chad basin countries; Chad, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon. The crisis is characterised as one of the world's most severe. More than 2.3 million people are displaced, and communities are suffering from violence, food insecurity and malnutrition.

"Unchartered terrain"

Four NORCAP experts are already on their way to Niger and Chad. They are hosted by World Food Programme and UNICEF, but will work independently from their host agencies.

"We are very excited to do a completely new project. This is unchartered terrain for us, and for NORCAP", says Slim Florian Bacha, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist and deployee to UNICEF in N'Djamena, Chad.

According to Muhigana, the deployees will map and identify those civil society organisations that are most in need of capacity building and help them develop skills and expertise in areas such as financial management, organisational development and monitoring and evaluation.

"This is the kind of expertise that the organisations said they needed the most. In addition, deployees will link up with existing donors in Chad and Niger, to advocate and enable organisations to get direct access to donors and funds. With a better knowledge of how these things work, they will be able to better serve people in need, says Felix Muhigana.

"This project has a lot of potential, because we are able to set an example of how this can and should be done. At the same time, it is a huge responsibility. We will communicate closely across the region and with our Project manager, to make sure we get off to a good start", explains Karolina Olofsson, Organisational Development Coordination Expert. She is going to work from Diffa, in Niger, with WFP.

Stepping stone for the future

NORCAP's collaboration with the Civil Society Network begun with the Lake Chad Donor Conference in Oslo, February 2017. The conference raised awareness about the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, aiming to ensure donors pledged money and commitment to scale up humanitarian interventions and alleviate human suffering.

During the conference, the Civil Society Network, an organisation with representatives from the Lake Chad Basin countries, approached NORCAP for a possible partnership. NORCAP did a scoping mission to Chad and Niger, which in turn secured funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"This project is very different from what we've done before, but it speaks to NORCAP's strategic commitments. During the project's pilot phase, we will actively explore additional partnerships to further develop local capacity in the Lake Chad basin, including with relevant donors," says Ulf Flink, Head of the NORCAP Unit in NORCAP.

Dikwa, a town in northeastern Borno state, has become accessible again after years of insurgency activities. According to the latest UN findings, the town has transformed from being one of the breadbaskets of Borno state to an area of large food production deficit. Photo: NRC/2017
Read caption Several towns and villages in the Lake Chad region are struggling to cope after years of insurgency activities. Dikwa, a town in north-eastern Borno state, Nigeria, has transformed from being one of the breadbaskets of Borno state to an area of large food production deficit. Due to the insurgency and ongoing lack of security, families have been unable to farm their land. This has dramatically reduced the availability of food and made the available food commodities more expensive. (Photo: NRC)