The economic crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting communities and local economies in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. Lockdown measures and movement restrictions have disrupted livelihood opportunities. Reduction of basic services and livelihoods are exacerbating the vulnerabilities of affected people such as increased unemployment and loss of remittances. Daily laborers and people engaging in cash-for-work activities are the most affected due to restricted labour migration and closure of small businesses. Youth and women in the informal sector are also hard hit. Supply shortages as a result of movement restrictions are also reducing economic opportunities and decreasing rural and urban incomes thereby affecting people’s ability to buy basic commodities. This economic downturn is making it more difficult to lay the foundations for sustainable recovery and a return to longer term development in the north-east.
In March and April, Early Recovery partners continued to rehabilitate or construct market stalls and classroom blocks in Adamawa State. Partners rehabilitated six market stalls in Madagali LGA and built two new ones in Michika LGA. In addition, five classroom blocks in Madagali LGA and four in Michika LGA were rehabilitated. Partners also started rehabilitation work on two slaughterhouses in Adamawa State. To complete the various rehabilitation and construction work, partners provided emergency employment opportunities to 74 skilled workers and 842 unskilled workers through the cash-for-work modality.
In Askira/Uba LGA of Borno State, Early Recovery partners rehabilitated four boreholes and one manual hand-pump benefiting approximately 1,500 people. In addition, partners are drilling a new borehole at the Hussara Health Centre, which will benefit 2,500 people. Construction of new incinerators at the Yimir Ali and Chul Primary Health Centres is ongoing. Furthermore, sector partners rehabilitated 22 boreholes in Geidam and Yunusari LGAs in Yobe State, to increase water supply for domestic use and agricultural production.
In Maiduguri, Borno State, partners continued to carry out waste management activities. A total of 3,312 people (2,578 men and 734 women) were employed through cash-for-work and cleaned up waste in 23 community areas across 10 wards.
In March and April, Sector partners trained crisis-affected people on vocational and business skills to increase their livelihood opportunities in MMC, Bama, Ngala and Damasak LGAs of Borno State. A total of 390 people received training in various skills such as carpentry, tailoring, shoe-making, micro-business, pasta making, baking and extracting groundnut oil.
Around 1,050 people completed enterprise skills and apprenticeship trainings with community-based master craftsmen across eight LGAs of Borno and Adamawa states. A total of 250 youth received start-up grants of 60,000 Naira each (first tranche and second tranche) in five LGAs in Borno State. In Adamawa State, 250 people received start-up grants of 30,000 each (first tranche) across three LGAs.
In Yobe State, 100 people received small businesses and livestock apprenticeship training, while partners also raised awareness on preventing the spread of COVID-19. In Damaturu, the capital of Yobe State, vocational training such as tailoring, fashion and design, building and interlocking, and cosmetology is ongoing for 30 trainees. The trainees will also undergo a competency test, financial literacy and business development trainings, after which they will receive business start-up kits.
In Jere and MMC LGAs, Borno State, partners trained 92 youth on employability and life skills including work place preparedness, professional and personal development, and job application processes. Partners are also currently providing technical training support to 125 youth on business and entrepreneurship skills.
COVID-19 posed a serious challenge to implementing resilience and recovery activities across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states due to government-imposed travel restrictions. The presence of Sector partners has been limited to a few essential staff, with many staff working from home, reducing supervision and monitoring of activities.
In addition, the security situation continued to be fragile. Incidents of attacks by non-state armed groups were reported in Nanam, the headquarters of Yunusari LGA in Yobe State. Threats of a looming attack in Yunusari and Geidam LGAs (Yobe State) also led to a two-day suspension of activities there.
The Early Recovery Sector will continue providing technical support to partners to implement recovery and resilience activities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Sector partners will apply preparedness and response plans to deliver messaging and raise awareness of the coronavirus pandemic to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. These measures will help efforts to continue non-COVID-19 interventions such as cash-for-work; unconditional cash distributions; support for the establishment of small businesses; vocational and business management trainings; livelihood support and economic recovery; and rehabilitating basic infrastructure. These activities will also contribute to curbing the spread of the virus, especially by ensuring the provision of enough water, soap and other critical WASH infrastructure.