Restoring livelihoods and promoting sustainable peace in NigeriaJan 29, 2015
“I lost everything during the conflict in 2011. Our house was set ablaze, and everything we had was gone in one night.” 41 year old Victoria Shambe, mother of three children narrated during the graduation ceremony. After the training which equipped her with professional catering skills, Victoria now makes various food stuff that she supplies to local supermarkets. “After the tragedy in 2011, I was carrying items on my head for sale, walking down the streets looking for customers. Now, I bake and cook at home and only take to the shops that have placed orders already…” she continues with a broad smile on her face. Although she makes enough to support her family, she still wants to expand and open a restaurant in the city so that she could adequately pay for children’s school fees.
Victoria is among the close to 150 victims of violent conflict in Jos, Plateau State, in the north central part of Nigeria who graduated from a UNDP supported vocational training programme aimed at empowering them with skills in various trades as well as knowledge on conflict prevention and resolution. The project, implemented with financial support from the Norwegian Government, aims at strengthening community participation in building structures that promote sustainable peace, social cohesion and religious tolerance as well as help restore livelihoods of victims of violent conflict through economic empowerment. Violent conflicts, including terrorist attacks perpetuated by extremist groups, in the north and north east of Nigeria have disrupted livelihoods and caused loss of lives and property affecting women and children the most. Skills acquired during the initial phase of the project include computer studies, tailoring, catering and leather tanning.
Selected from various backgrounds, participants of the programme who graduated were further supported with various equipment to enable them start their own businesses. Although the initiative benefitted only these individuals, it complements the Federal government’s programmes aimed at enhancing national capacity for conflict management and promoting inclusive growth and supporting livelihoods of victims of conflict/violence especially women and youth.
Abdulkareem Musa and Abdullahi Muhammed both 20 years old, clad in shirts they recently made themselves as they share their experience. While Abdullahi was attending night school at a Muslim school for religious lessons, Abdulkareem helped his family with house chores. “I always wanted to join the army so that I can help defend my community” says Abdulkareem while his friend recounts his dreams of becoming a Surgical Doctor. The both lost friends and family property during the violence in 2011. They both want to use their newly acquired skills to revisit their dreams and make them a reality. “For now, we will perfect our skills of making clothes so that we can make enough money to help us go to school and help our families.” They share their plans.
Beneficiaries of the training are expected to use their skills and equipment to sustain their businesses. Jos community members are more tolerant to each other regardless of religious inclination. Those already applying their newly acquired skills are already supporting their families.
Plans are underway to up-scale the project to benefit more people using a similar model within the North and extending it to the North East, which is now the most affected region with violent conflict including terrorist attacks. It is planned that during the year, 300 victims of violence will benefit from this initiative in North East alone.Mr. Lucky Musonda