After repeated delays, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNTJF)a loose coalition of troops from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeriaseized back most of the territory previously held by Boko Haram.14 Counterinsurgency operations triggered new waves of displacement as civilians were pushed from the countryside into military-controlled camps in urban centers.15 Yet the involvement of neighboring countries also sparked an increasing regionalization of the crisis and further militarization of the conflict response. The mass influx of aid and security resources into Borno State in particular has shifted political incentives. 51 Phone interview with U.S. aid official, January 2018. 49 DFID, Annual Review Summary Sheet, CSSF North East Nigeria Conflict Management and Stabilisation, https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/projects/GB-GOV-1-300309/documents. After lengthy consultations, they agreed on a solution, with the State Department and USAID working together to select and vet prospective military counterparts.146 However, progress on developing a framework was slow: lacking a civilian counterpart with authority over the process, USAID struggled to engage Nigerian military leaders.147 In addition, prohibitions on providing material support to designated terrorist organizations and U.S. Treasury sanctions made it difficult for the United States to provide direct support to Operation Safe Corridor and those already cleared by Nigerian security forces to undergo deradicalization and reintegration, as any such assistance required time-consuming interagency coordination and vetting.148. Some donors use the term synonymously with early recovery to describe any activities aimed at supporting the transition from humanitarian aid to long-term development. However, these efforts have little connection to local- or state-level governance, and thus are not clearly working toward a defined political end state. They also impeded U.S. security assistance, as the Leahy Amendment made it difficult for the U.S. government to provide training or equipment to military units suspected of being involved in human rights abuses. For example, in the aftermath of Operation Last Hold, a Nigerian military effort launched in May 2018 to facilitate the return of more displaced communities to northern Borno, some IDPs were sent back to Guzamala and Marte LGAs, areas around Lake Chad that aid organizations still considered dangerous and hard to reach.118 In September 2018, Boko Haram staged a major attack on the headquarters of Guzamala LGA, forcing many returnees to flee once again.119. A second priority area has been the return of basic services and civilian administration to conflict-affected communities. 77 Cole et al., Breaking Boko Haram and Ramping Up Recovery.. Various U.S. agencies began pushing for greater military cooperation between the Lake Chad countries, and the United States leveraged the Global Security Cooperation Fund and the Counterterrorism Partnership Fund to increase security assistance to Cameroon, Chad, and Niger.12 This shift allowed the U.S. government to support military efforts against Boko Haram while circumventing the policy hurdles associated with direct aid to the Nigerian government. For many donors, the overarching objective was to help Nigerian civil and military authorities re-establish a government presence in recaptured areas and begin the programming aimed at preparing the ground for longer-term recovery and development. 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW 82 International Crisis Group, Chad: Between Ambition and Fragility..

These efforts have generally fallen into three main categories: programs aimed at strengthening local conflict prevention and mitigation systems, programs aimed at restoring local governance and basic services, and programs aimed at fostering social cohesion and ensuring the reintegration of former combatants. In Chad and Cameroon, authoritarian continuity has hollowed political institutions and conceals significant fragility. 25 Virginie Roiron, A Square Peg in a Round Hole: The Politics of Disaster Management in North-eastern Nigeria, https://odihpn.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/he-70-web.pdf, 14. 2 Ministerial Conference on the Adoption of the Regional Stabilization Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin Region, African Unions Peace and Security Department, August 31, 2018, http://www.peaceau.org/en/article/lake-chad-basin-commission-and-the-african-union-convene-a-ministerial-conference-to-adopt-the-regional-stabilization-strategy-for-the-areas-of-the-lake-chad-basin-region-affected-by-the-activities-of-boko-haram.

Offering targeted services and interventions to at-risk communities and individuals will make them less vulnerable to extremist recruitment. Stigmatization affects not only former combatants but also relatives of suspected fighters, women and girls abducted by Boko Haram, those who were living in Boko Haramcontrolled areas, as well as children born out of forced marriages within the group.53 As a result, there is a high risk that the return of former Boko Haram members could cause new tensions, and that some returnees could even return to violence if they struggle to find acceptance. Together, these developments have created a local leadership vacuum at a time when the risk of land and property-related conflict is particularly high.40 Disruptions in grazing routes and decreases in arable land have exacerbated conflicts between farmers and herders, while protracted displacement has caused friction between internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, and host communities. 110 Skype interview with INGO official, Abuja, November 2018.

47 Chitra Nagarajan, Conflict Analysis of Northeast Nigeria, Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods Project, September 2017. In addition, policymaking at the federal level is not always aligned with the priorities of the state governments. The advantage of this shift is that it allows political nimbleness: rather than being tied to the Nigerian governments timeline for returning civilian administration and services, the program can adjust quickly based on changing conflict dynamics, and reach more remote and vulnerable communities. This convening function can be significant in a context of violent conflict: for example, participants in the Borno State Conflict Management Alliance funded by NSRP assessed the forum as useful, despite limited evidence of direct impact on conflict prevention or resolution.95 At the same time, the body proved ill-equipped to address controversial issues, particularly military abuses against civilians.96 If you raised the issue, the military would simply issue denials, one aid official noted.97. Community stabilization programs rest on the assumption that communities are, in fact, to some degree stable, rather than experiencing temporary displacement or being at high risk of renewed displacement. Some international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) have adopted a very similar approach to CVE programs: community representatives get together to discuss the local drivers of extremism and identify the interventions that would help address them. Both NEMA and its state-level counterparts have been led by political cronies who have been accused of diverting millions of aid dollars into private hands.74 For local-level stabilization efforts, the scale of corruption poses multiple challenges: it undermines citizen trust in the recovery process, risks worsening perceptions of government neglect, and draws money away from urgent reconstruction and service delivery needs. The third category of interventions focuses on reintegrating individuals affiliated with violent extremist groups back into communities, ensuring the peaceful mediation of local disputes, as well as securing opportunities for youth who joined community defense militia like the CJTF during the conflict. Projects have focused on building boreholes, offering livelihood support and cash transfers, and restoring market places, among other priorities.52. 67 Interview with Nigerian stakeholder, Maiduguri, February 2018. 65 Skype interview with INGO official, Abuja, November 2018. Programs designed in this vein often have a dual objective. Agencies Have Coordinated Stabilization Efforts but Need to Document their Agreement, September 2018, https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/694786.pdf, 22. 86 NSRP, Lessons Learned: State-Citizen Platforms, December 2017, http://www.nsrp-nigeria.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Lessons-Learned-Addressing-Grievance-through-State-Citizen-Platforms.pdf. The same risk surrounds local vigilante groups: while they are generally celebrated for providing protection to civilians during the height of the crisis, communities now worry about the likelihood of future violence associated with their politicization, turn to criminality, and intergroup rivalries.54. Insufficient coordination between security actors often resulted in delayed and heavy-handed responses to local security threatsa problem not unique to the northeast, but prevalent across Nigeria.38 The insurgency dramatically exacerbated these challenges. 9 See, for example, Johnnie Carson, Nigeria, One Year After Elections, remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, April 9, 2012, Washington DC, https://2009-2017.state.gov/p/af/rls/rm/2012/187721.htm; https://2009-2017.state.gov/p/af/rls/rm/2013/217653.htm; U.S. Department of State, Boko Haram and U.S. Counterterrorism Assistance to Nigeria, May 14, 2014, https://2009-2017.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/05/226072.htm. As opposed to the intended design, issues are not cascading across the levels, found one evaluation. Yet to date, political and civilian cooperation has lagged behind joint military action. Some programs have sought to couple infrastructure reconstruction with community-based development efforts that seek to restore ties between citizens and government officials, with the long-term aim of improving bottom-up participation and accountability in governance and service delivery. Lastly, across all levels of governance, corruption and mismanagement directly undermine the conflict response. strengthening local- and state-level conflict prevention and community security mechanisms to help communities prevent and solve emerging conflicts and tensions; rehabilitating civilian infrastructure and basic services to strengthen government legitimacy and responsiveness to citizen needs; and.

At the same time, these programs rely heavily on a notion of bottom-up empowerment, without directly addressing the fact that absent free and fair local elections and greater transparency and accountability in state budgeting, blockages in service provision will likely persist in the future. Rather than channeling services through the Nigerian government, USAID is providing direct assistance to individuals and communities.105 One official says, we scaled our interventions down from the LGA to the ward-level/village-level, and try to address the main source of vulnerability: maybe there is no water supply, or no economic opportunities in those places. Some programs bring together civilians and security personnel to monitor, report, and discuss local security problems and jointly plan responses, and provide training for community leaders and members in peaceful dispute resolution.41 Others have created permanent forums and information channels across multiple levels of governance. First, the region lacks an effective political infrastructure. Lastly, while efforts to support both a national DDR framework and local-level reintegration have intensified, they remain stifled by a predominantly militarized approach to the conflict. This problem was particularly acute in the early years of the crisis, when the Nigerian government under Goodluck Jonathan pursued a highly militarized response, and donors struggled to find viable counterparts for civilian stabilization efforts. Humanitarian aid organizations working in Nigeria have argued that it comes too soon, noting that the conflict is still ongoing and hundreds of thousands of people remain beyond the reach of basic emergency assistance.

Recognizing this challenge, USAID in 2016 began working directly with the Nigerian military on the development of a national DDR framework. All rights reserved. The growing success of ISWAP in particular has spurred new U.S. efforts to use targeted service provision as a means of countering recruitment by violent extremist groups in more remote areas. Yet it is unclear if this assumption holds true in a context of continued insecurity. Lastly, the deteriorating security situation and lack of communication lines with Boko Haram limited access and made it difficult to obtain accurate assessments of the rapidly evolving crisis. It is the first thing that gets cut.76. While programs vary in their design, they are based on the basic theory of change that supporting communities to better articulate their concerns and needs to government officials and security agenciesand training the latter to listen to these concernswill help ensure more effective responses to local-level threats, build popular trust in security forces, and help manage future tensions and shocks.37, Even before the onset of conflict, citizen trust in formal security forces had eroded due to corruption, inefficiency, and weak accountability. 108 Ruth Maclean, Nigerians Forced Out by Boko Haram Return to Ruins and Continuing Risk, Guardian, July 27, 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/jul/27/nigerians-forced-out-by-boko-haram-return-to-ruins-and-continuing-risk. In Borno, the state government has pursued a stabilization approach centered on concentrating civilians in so-called garrison towns: LGA headquarters ringed by a narrow perimeter of farmland and protected by Nigerian security forces. Communities are understandably reluctant to welcome those associated with violent extremist groups back into their fold, particularly as long as the victims of the conflict have yet to receive adequate support. Based on these findings, the EUs most recent conflict management program shifted its focus primarily to the community and LGA level, noting that the impact on citizen security would likely be higher.98 As security has improved, coverage has increasedas of November 2018, the program covered fourteen out of twenty-seven LGAs in Borno State.99 However, the narrower local-level focus also creates problems of scale. The donor community on the ground in Nigeria was late to acknowledge the severity of the crisis, and slow to scale up its response. Efforts to connect these processes to planning and budgeting processes are still at an early stage. Other programs combine reconstruction with community-based development, with the aim of improving bottom-up participation in service delivery. Reconstruction has stalled, and services are primarily delivered by already overstretched international aid organizations. 55 Interviews with international aid officials, Abuja and Maiduguri, February 2018. Fishermen and traders around Lake Chad have accused soldiers of seizing their deliveries and working with local authorities to collect illicit taxes.145 These practices cut directly against efforts to rebuild communities economic resilience. Certain drivers of insecurity, such as continued security force violations and corruption, the reintegration of civilian militia, escalating drug abuse, and the political marginalization of some communities, will require complementary efforts to change federal- or state-level incentives and drive top-down policy change. 23 Patricia McIlreavy and Julien Schopp, A Collective Shame: The Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in North-Eastern Nigeria, https://odihpn.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/he-70-web.pdf, 10. Yet many core challenges remain. As one DFID evaluation notes, there is a trade-off between the need to work where conflict is more intense to prepare for stabilisation and post-conflict recovery, and the fact that operations in these violent contexts are more costly and achieve lower impacts.89 Building the necessary support among local gatekeepers and military decisionmakers took time, and certain security challenges went far beyond the capacity of local-level platforms to address.90 Changing security conditions also meant that program activities could not cover all of Borno Stateinstead, they were confined to those LGAs with reasonable safety guarantees and access.

Thousands of civilians were forced to relocate from rural areas into military-controlled satellite camps in recaptured towns. While the Nigerian government has been eager to demonstrate progress in reconstruction, donors point to the longer-term threat of ISWAP gaining a greater foothold in the rural areas around Lake Chad. {bqv 43 DFID Nigeria, Conflict Management in Northeast Nigeria, https://devtracker.dfid.gov.uk/projects/GB-GOV-1-300309.

Yet in places like Dikwa and Damasek, buildings have only been rebuilt along the road; its only a shell. 117 Interview with diploma in Abuja, February 2018; and Refugees International, Political Pressure to Return., 118 Carsten and Kingimi, As Nigeria Elections Loom.. dV*M^fmRU#HPiL2. Efforts to address this immense challenge have been guided by several theories of change, resulting in somewhat distinct approaches. 104 Hamish Nixon and Richard Mallett, Service Delivery, Public Perceptions and State Legitimacy: Findings from the Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium, Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium, June 2017, https://securelivelihoods.org/wp-content/uploads/Service-delivery-public-perceptions-and-state-legitimacy_Findings-from-the-Secure-Livelihoods-Research-Consortium.pdf. % 70, October 2017, https://odihpn.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/he-70-web.pdf. The problem also extends to the police force. In reality, many IDPs returned to towns that were still destroyed and insecure, struggling to accommodate the needs of new arrivals. 122 Skype interview with INGO official, Abuja, November 2018; and UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance, Nigeria: Humanitarian Response Strategy, January 2019-December 2021, December 2018, https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/28012019_ocha_nigeria_humanitarian_response_strategy.pdf. 79 International Crisis Group, Chad: Between Ambition and Fragility, March 30, 2016, https://www.crisisgroup.org/africa/central-africa/chad/chad-between-ambition-and-fragility. First, across the northeast, international donors have identified restoring local-level conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms as a central priority. 89 NSRP, Lessons Learned: State-Citizen Platforms.. 4 International Crisis Group, Curbing Violence in Nigeria (II): The Boko Haram Insurgency, Africa Report no. Yet donors note that the military maintains tight control over the process: the screening and vetting of detainees is still not subject to civilian oversight, and many Boko Haram suspects arrested in previous years remain in detention, despite little to no evidence of ties to violent extremist groups. 54 Chitra Nagarajan, Civilian Perceptions of the Yan Gora (CJTF) in Borno State, Nigeria, Center for Civilians in Conflict, 2018, https://civiliansinconflict.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/2018.06.CJTF-Report.Africa-Program.Web_..pdf. Another program in Borno State similarly aims to feed locally designed CVE plans into the budgeting priorities of LGA and state government officials.49, Providing services to counter violent extremism, The third theory of change is focused more squarely on countering violent extremism. 100 Interview USAID/OTI, Washington DC, January 2018. Yet some aid officials also note that the government has not sufficiently prioritized the return of civilian authority structures or incentivized local officials to return. Even in more secure areas, weaknesses in local governance capacity have created challenges for programs aimed at improving accountability relationships between citizens and local officials, and strengthening government capacity to deliver services. Donors seeking to support the defection and rehabilitation of low-level Boko Haram members early on recognized the need for a broader policy to guide these efforts. To date, coordination efforts remain largely externally driven, and progress in implementation has been slow. Borno State, for example, has held only two local elections since the end of the military dictatorship in 1999, one in 2003 and another in 2008.127.
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