On 29 June, during an official ceremony organised in line with Covid-19 prevention measures, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) opened a solar-powered borehole with a 32,000 litres per day capacity, five tap/water collection points and more than 1km pipe network within the Ndok community in Ogoja Local Government Area (LGA), Cross River State.

At the opening ceremony, the Paramount Ruler of Ogoja, the Ndok Community Clan Head, Representatives of the Ogoja LGA Chairman, State Emergency Management Agency, members of the host community and media witnessed the cutting of the ribbon and drank portable water from the borehole.

In some rural Local Government Areas in Cross River State, communities have little or no access to either piped or borehole water. “They say water is life, through this borehole, UNHCR has brought life to our communities, and we will work hard to protect the borehole,” said Chief Pius Uwanu, Ndok Community Leader.

In late 2019, the Ndok community made a significant gesture when it offered 100 hectares of farmland to promote the livelihoods of Cameroonian refugees in Ogoja-a majority are farmers. Cross River State alone is hosting 63% of a total of over 57,000 Cameroon refugees present in Nigeria. These refugees rely heavily on humanitarian assistance and on host communities for their subsistence.

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In line with the Global Compact on Refugees, UNHCR is working to strengthen basic host community infrastructure, including health, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in States (communities) hosting Cameroonian refugees across Nigeria to benefit host communities and refugees.

“Through this water project, UNHCR has added colour to the development of the Ogoja Local Government Area,” said Mr Benjamin Bissong, representing the Chairman of Ogoja LGA.

To address the needs of Cameroonian refugees in Nigeria, UNHCR is working in close partnership with the government of Nigeria and relevant national institutions including among others, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons, State/Local Emergency Management Agencies, Local Government Authorities, community leaders and others.

“UNHCR really appreciates the contribution of the Government of Nigeria (GoN) to the Cameroon refugee situation,” said Mr. Mulugeta Zewdie, UNHCR Head of Sub-Office in Ogoja. With support from the GoN, UNHCR has developed three settlements where refugees have access to health, education and other basic amenities within host communities – Adagom and Ukende refugee settlements in Ogoja Local Government, Cross River State, and Ikyogen settlement in Kwande Local Government Area in Benue State. “This borehole is part of UNHCR’s commitment to effective burden sharing for communities hosting refugees,” said Zewdie.

UNHCR wishes to thank the donors that have contributed to the Cameroon refugee situation in 2020 and have made this project possible including Australia, Japan, Liechtenstein, Morocco, Sweden, United States of America and private donors.