How Business Can Help Solve the Lake Chad Basin Crisis

Photo by A World at School / Nick Cavanagh

The education crisis in northern Nigeria grabbed headlines in 2014 after the kidnapping of 276 girls from their school in Chibok. The abduction sparked the international outcry and campaign to #BringBackourGirls, while the Global Business Coalition for Education — along with the UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown, A World at School, and the Nigerian government — mobilized $30 million from businesses, the Nigerian government, and international donors through the Safe Schools Initiative. Safe Schools Nigeria is just one example of how the GBC-Education is coordinating opportunities for the private sector to engage in efforts to provide education opportunities for children and adolescents living through conflicts and other emergencies.

But the crisis is no longer contained to Nigeria alone. More than a million children across Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad are in danger of losing out on their education due to a mounting humanitarian emergency sprung from violence and displacement. The crisis is affecting nearly half of the 21 million men, women, and children who live in the Lake Chad Basin and leading aid organizations such as Doctors Without Borders and the World Food Programme are warning that the situation could rapidly become a famine if immediate help is not delivered.

The crisis in the Lake Chad region is just one of a number of humanitarian emergencies disrupting education opportunities for 75 million children and adolescents across the globe. The violent insurgency of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria has led to the destruction of over 1,500 schools and left 600,000 children without access to education. Another 800,000 children are at risk of losing out on their education and chance to build a strong foundation for their future because they have been forced to flee their homes and are living as internally displaced persons or as refugees in neighboring countries.

Along with vital shelter, food, and medical aid to those in the Lake Chad Basin, allowing children an opportunity to get back into classrooms and resume building hope and skills for their future is no less crucial of an intervention. The international community has begun to take concrete steps to recognize the need for education in emergency settings and has launched the innovative Education Cannot Wait Fund for education in emergencies to raise critical funding and coordinate responses to provide education in these contexts. GBC-Education has been a voice for the private sector calls for the creation of Education Cannot Wait, specifically through holding private sector consultations and serving on the Fund’s Technical Strategy Group, and is currently working to mobilize $100 million from businesses to support the Fund.

Efforts like the Education Cannot Wait Fund are the beginnings of a new framework for responding to humanitarian emergencies and getting resources and funding to the places where it’s needed most. The existing humanitarian system is failing children in the Lake Chad Basin. According to a Theirworld report, humanitarian response plans for the region are less than half funded and an emergency appeal launched in July cites a need for $221 million just to meet immediate needs — including food, education and psychosocial support — through September 2016. A fully funded and operating Education Cannot Wait Fund is intended to be able to support such urgent education needs swiftly and efficiently.

We recognize that businesses and the private sector have capacity beyond merely funding to engage in the provision of education in emergencies. To this end, GBC-Education is developing an Emergency Database through which companies can register the resources they would be able to deploy to support education in an emergency and where they would be able to deploy those resources. Having this information readily available can lessen the time between the onset of a humanitarian crisis and the mobilization of a coordinated response in which the private sector can play a vital role.

Please join us: