IDPs engaged as waste managers (Photo UNDP Nigeria)

The nine year-long conflict in Nigeria’s North-East region led to loss of lives, destruction of public infrastructure, loss of sources of livelihoods and mass displacement across the region. As a result of the crisis, public services could not be delivered, unemployment rose together with poverty - an already lacking population was pushed to extreme levels of vulnerability, beyond its coping capacity.  

A Livelihoods and Economic Recovery Assessment conducted in 2016 reviewed that 30% of households were economically inactive and that 86% of them spent more than they earned. It was difficult for survivors to feed, send their children to school, provide shelter or have meaningful sources of livelihoods -  over 20% of the households were headed by a woman. Without any meaning source of income, more youths were at risk of being recruited into the ranks of the insurgent group as an alternative means of survival.

While Maiduguri remained the epicentre of the crisis, it also became the destination for those fleeing the conflict from the outlaying Local Government Areas - over a million people have settled in Maiduguri as IDPs since the crisis began.  With the increase in population, came the burden of daily waste generation. In Maiduguri alone, waste was being generated at an estimated 570 tons per day, an increase of 45% from pre-conflict levels. Cases of Malaria, diarrhoea and related diseases increased as a result.

“When it rained, the water stagnated.  Our drainages were blocked with dirt and our kids were always sick during the rains”- Aisha Musa, 26 year old resident of Shehuri South community.

The IDPs got emergency employment under our "Cash for Work" Initiative (Photo UNDP Nigeria)

Working in partnership with the Government of Switzerland, we implemented the Waste Management Emergency Response for IDP host communities in Maiduguri, an initiative designed to support the overall strategic objectives of the 2017 Nigeria Humanitarian Response Plan aimed at addressing waste accumulations and illegal dumpsites. Successful cleanup would reduce space for vector breeding sites and minimise health risks in host communities, while emergency employment would provide income for the workers and enhance household economic status.  


  • Over 1000 IDPs and members of Host Communities engaged in emergency employment as waste managers
  • 55% of women employed on a normally male dominated Cash for Work Project;
  • Emergency employment for beneficiaries provided income for children's school fees as well as capital for new small scale businesses

We selected over one thousand highly vulnerable IDPs and host community members from four communities and engaged them in clearing the waste that continued to pose numerous health risks to the already vulnerable groups in Maiduguri. After training them, we equipped them with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and tools needed in order to carry out successful clean-ups. Through a ”Cash for Work” arrangement, IDPs received payments through this emergency employment opportunity.

This pilot project did not only help improve household income, it also facilitated the restarting of productive activities by the beneficiaries. For example, Hauwa Zannah Ali, 40, a beneficiary from Shehuri South, said she used her income to pay school fees for three of her seven childrenwho had been out of school due to lack of funds. Aliko Modu, 29 went into a joint “animal and animal feed” business with a friend - after reinvesting profits back into the venture, Aliko's business continues to grow.  “UNDP gave us capital which we keep rolling over and making more profit,” he narrated.

Removal of the waste has improved the environment within those communities-There are no more flooding after the rains, the foul smell from stagnant water and accumulated waste is no more and incidents of diseases like malaria have significantly reduced.

Thank you UNDP for the support; now we can breathe fresh air and don’t have to worry about flooding during the rainy seasons Hausa, 27 and Mohammed, 59, both of Gwange community said during a visit to their community.

UNDP is urgently expanding its early recovery work in the region to address the underlying causes of the conflict, protect development gains and help vulnerable people avoid becoming dependent on aid.

Cleaner environment, healthier kids (Photo UNDP Nigeria/Eno Jonathan)
Hauwa Zannah, Cash for Work beneficiary. (Photo UNDP Nigeria/Eno Jonathan)
His Cash for Work proceeds made Aliko Modu an entrepreneur (Photo UNDP Nigeria/Eno Jonathan)

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