Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Boko Haram: United Nations Plans Early Warning Systems For Nort-East Nigeria

Gombe – The United Nations says it will set up “ICT-based Early Warning Systems’’ in Borno and other states in the North East to ensure rapid response to activities of Boko Haram.

Dr Daouda Toure, the UN Resident Co-ordinator, said this in Gombe on Wednesday, at the ongoing screening of Boko Haram victims for a one-year skills acquisition programme.

He said the project would also enable victims of Boko Haram to access help promptly.
Toure said the ICT-based system, when installed, would allow people to send real-time incidents which pose threats to the society to a central control room through imaging, SMS and e-mail.

The UN official said the information would then be retrieved, analysed and responded to within minutes.
“Part of the programmes we (UNDP) are planning for Borno and the North East is to have the ICT-based Early Warning System.

“ICT early warning system is a system that is ICT-based like it is called.
“You can send SMS to that system, you can send video imaging to that system, you can take your photograph and send to that system and it will be there.
“So, people will be able to see and analyse.

“We had a meeting with the Borno Governor about two weeks ago and we told him about this and he was very much interested.
“We are going to meet with him further to see the mechanism to set up this.
“We can set it up but the real operation comes from the government because they control the security agencies, they control the staff.

“They (government) will have to provide the space where you install computers and people will work 24 hours because in managing crisis, people have to stay alert.
“You (staff) have to be there morning, afternoon, evening to ensure that if there is anybody crying for help somewhere, he will be able to get that help.”

Toure, represented by Matthew Alao, UNDP’s Conflict Prevention and Peace Building Analyst, said to win the war against insurgents, people must be actively involved in the provision of intelligence.
He said people must be given the opportunity to report suspected activities anonymously, in order to remove the fear of being identified.

The UN official noted the concerns about false alerts, but pointed out that cases of false alerts were negligible while genuine ones were usually much more.
“You have to evolve an initiative that will give people opportunity to report incidences of conflict and violence or incidences that can resort into violence or activities of this Boko Haram insurgency.
“So that’s why we want to set up an ICT-based early warning early response system.

“As long as you have the code, the SMS short code, the e-mail, all the necessary information you need to have to send to the server, the control staff will retrieve it.

“The operation staff will also act on it by sending such messages or alerts to the nearest police post or the nearest security post to go and bust such conflict or crisis that is brewing.
“It’s a unique one, because all that is required is government commitment at the highest level of the Security Council of the state.

“Anything like this, because of the hierarchical nature of security agencies, somebody must give directive, not individuals.
“We require the state government to constitute the response management group at the highest level that can give directive and their directive will be carried out.
“If you have been to Lagos State, it has a very wonderful one and you have seen that it has impacted positively on the crisis level in Lagos state.

“So, this is what we can do also to ensure that crisis are reported anonymously.
“You will not be identified and that will give people some confidence and if they are responding as they are reporting, then people will continue to pass information.

“However, I want to point out that one area that people used to say is `what if people send false alert?’ You can’t rule that one out.
“It may not even necessarily be false alert, something might be growing and somebody just said `let me send’ and when the security gets there, they don’t find anything anymore.

“It’s better than not even acting at all; and if you look at the information, maybe about 10 per cent (are false).
“If you have 10 per cent of the alerta that are not real, it’s still better than to leave the 90 per cent that are real. So, we will do (establish) that.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that no fewer than 2,000 Boko Haram victims will be trained in various vocational skills during periods ranging from six months to one year.

The skills include tailoring, computer, catering and decoration, knitting, shoe-making/leather work, hairdressing, GSM repairs, plumbing, welding and fabrication, aluminium, agriculture, and carpentry and woodwork, among others.

NAN also reports that between 500 and 700 victims will be trained in the first phase of the programme scheduled to commence at the end of July. (NAN)

Vanguard Newspaper

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