Providing emergency employment for victims of North-East insurgency

Apr 5, 2017

Mohammed Dunoma is part of the cash-for-work team rebuilding the Mafa local government secretariat. (Photo, UNDP Nigeria)

Dumoma Mohammed had a happy life in Mafa with his wife and three children. He earned a good wage and felt safe in his community. His hearing impairment was not an impediment to his ability to work. Without knowing sign language, his friends and neighbours were used to communicating through hand gestures and writing.

Then Boko Haram attacked. Survivors including Mohammed and his family fled to Maiduguri where they have stayed since 2014. Mohammed was forced to take menial jobs and rely on the kindness of strangers for any income.

In January 2017, Mohammed learned that UNDP was helping his community rebuild the government secretariat office and he quickly joined the team.  Back in his own community with his friends and neighbours was a relief for Mohammed. They understood his language and he could work safely.

UNDP launched this cash-for-work programme to give immediate income for those hardest hit by the conflict, and through restoring the Mafa local government office, civil servants can return to work delivering basic services for the community of over 166,000. Mafa is also the temporary home to over 1000 displaced people who are in immediate need of assistance.

“This is the first step in stabilizing one of many communities on the brink of famine,” said Joerg Kuhnel, UNDP’s Northeast Nigeria Regional Coordinator. “By providing immediate employment for the most vulnerable people in this crisis, the money they earn can provide for their daily needs until livelihoods are kick-started.”

In Borno, the most affected state, the predominant livelihood is in agriculture, but for the third year in a row, farmers have not been able to plant their fields. This has also led to a massive deficit in available food. What food is for sale is at an inflated price. Almost 86 percent of people in the affected areas spend more money than they earn.

By getting the local government structures back up and running, services can return and people can get back to normal faster and farmers can get back to planting.

“This work is very important. People have gone back to Mafa, but the LGA chairman, the secretaries, the local authorities are not on the ground because they don’t have offices,” said Dr. Baba Gana Umara, Commissioner of Borno’s MRR. “UNDP provided the offices and by doing this we are re-establishing local governance. People are starting to resume their normal life.”

With funding from the Government of Japan, and in partnership with the Borno Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (MRRR), UNDP’s Support to Early Recovery and Social Cohesion project aims to stabilize communities and rebuild vital community infrastructure. 

Local government staff will now return to work. According to the Mafa Secretariat, civil servants will resume work in the newly completed office in early April, 2017.

As UNDP works with the most vulnerable people, like Mohammed, no one is left behind while communities are stabilized across the crisis-hit region.

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