• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
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NECT, Design Union collaborate to solve accommodation challenges for displaced children in North-East


The North East Children’s Trust (NECT) in partnership with Design Union are celebrating the fifth anniversary of “The Sanctuary ”, the resettlement model for displaced children in the North East of Nigeria. The Sanctuary targets 3,000 displaced children in a novel solution towards solving accommodation needs of displaced children in the region.

Overcrowding, shortage of accommodation, poor sanitation, lack of access to medical facilities and potable water are common problems in resettlement camps where displaced persons are provided temporary shelter by the government.

“We had no prior model; all we had was a burning desire to re-ignite the flame of hope in the hearts and minds of the children we had been entrusted with. Armed with a well thought-out Master Plan, with clarity and sincerity of purpose, together with the amazing team of indigenous staff, we got to work on implementation which involved voluminous learning along the way,” said Yemi Osinbajo, vice president of Nigeria, at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camp in Dalori, Borno State.

According to Osinbajo, building a befitting resettlement accommodation for the displaced children was paramount to heal the trauma occasioned by the mindless attacks and destruction of their ancestral homes, killing and abduction of their parents and siblings by terrorists. “The children had different back stories and experiences; many of them traumatised beyond imagination, suffering losses of monumental proportions having witnessed the murder of family members and being separated from loved ones as they tried to escape”.

Read also: UNICEF says Internally displaced children most vulnerable to COVID-19 pandemic

The vice president posits that the Sanctuary, which incorporates The Learning Centre (TLC), has transformed the lives of hundreds of displaced children. “As the children arrived, we were confronted with some daunting questions: do we have what it takes to do this? How do we restore what was lost – hope, dreams and transform the lives of many children made vulnerable by the conflict? How do we nurture, empower and renew,” Osinbajo stated.

“Design Union solves and implements projects in a sustainable way in the built environment by applying first principles, and using locally available expertise and resources. The company believes that Africans should solve African problems. By applying persistently rigorous thinking to problems, Design Union innovates sustainable projects worth studying closely,” said Anthony Aihie, MD/ CEO, Design Union Ltd.

According to him, the company recently designed a model housing project fondly called ‘The Sanctuary’ for the resettlement of 3,000 displaced children in the North East. The facility, designed for the North East Children’s Trust is an initiative of Yemi Osinbajo, the Vice-President in 2017, which was formally handed over on Monday March 21.

Aihie posits that Design Union is a development company with a heart for the growth of the African continent and betterment of the world at large with a commitment to solving housing and development challenges in Nigeria, and indeed across the continent, with what it called ‘brave innovations’.

“A recent project that is being celebrated for the novel way we are solving a difficult housing need is one fondly called ‘The Orphan Sanctuary’. This facility resolves the problem of educating, housing and nurturing displaced children of primary and secondary school age. The NECT is celebrating the fifth year resounding success of this facility,” said Aihie, stating that Design Union is solving living space challenges in Africa by implementing solutions and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives that address shortage of liveable houses for people and communities.

Accordingly, he disclosed that Design Union’s approach to problems-solving is business unusual, which seeks to solve housing and development challenges in Nigeria and Africa with bold steps and brave innovations. “We see and deliver possibilities where others see difficulties. Our heart over profit is manifestly evident in all that we do,” Aihie concludes.

The Sanctuary project is a model resettlement solution aligned with the International Union of Architects and Rehabilitation International’s call for a 21st century symbol of accessibility to represent the core values of rights and inclusion, independence, physical and virtual accessibility for all, including people with disabilities.