Now we're in business: longer-term solutions in Chad
Gore, Chad: It's easy to think being a refugee is a short-term situation, but in the camps of southern Chad people could be staying for a while. Helping them with longer-term development is Amadou Boubakar, a UNV volunteer Environmental Officer with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Camp Amboko near Gore town in southern Chad is home to 12,000 refugees escaping conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). Originally from Niger, Mr. Boubakar has utilized his lengthy experience to guide and initiate sustainable development projects there.
Most of his efforts tend towards building the refugee's capacity to solve their own problems. For example, Mr. Boubakar helped set up committees of volunteers from among the camp-dwellers to manage agricultural production, food security and animal husbandry.
Guided by the UNV volunteer, the camp-dwellers manage a grain store provided by UNHCR. Seeds are conserved for planting, and surplus produce is now being marketed both in Camp Amboko's own market and outside too. Mr. Boubakar discusses with the volunteer committee how to set prices and aids them develop stock management procedures.
To help people move beyond aid handouts, he has initiated a micro-credit scheme to enable people to buy livestock, for example, and ensured that vaccinations and improved animal fodder are available. And the camp-dwellers have shown that all you need to go into business is an entrepreneurial spirit. Disabled people have been trained on how to repair their own wheelchair-tricycles: some now have a lucrative line in general bicycle repairs for camp residents and Gore locals.
With two more camps nearby housing another 20,000 people, the impact on Gore and its surroundings is considerable. Deforestation and the associated desertification is a huge issue, so Mr. Boubakar has introduced more efficient cooking stoves that consume less wood, and helped improve peoples' usage of wood as a construction material.
The UNV volunteer also works on sensitizing people to forest management. Camp Amboko schoolchildren have been planting trees, for example, under the 'Let's grow together' campaign.
Essentially, what Amadou Boubakar does helps move the UNHCR operation at Gore from immediate humanitarian assistance to longer-term development. When the time comes for the people of the camps to return to the CAR, the expertise they have gained in Chad can be used there too.
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