The insurgency in the Northeast Nigeria, as part of the Lake Chad region, has left in its trail deprivation and destruction. A victim of the protracted insurgency that has gained currency since 2009 is Adarju Ibrahim, a forty-one-year-old woman married with four kids, who hails from Lassa community in Askira Uba Local Government Area, Borno State. Adarju is one person still recovering from the insurgency because she was displaced alongside her family and lost many relatives as well as her means for livelihood.
When asked about her experience, Adarju reflected: “My family and I were forced to flee our village because of the insurgent attacks. Our house was destroyed and burnt to the ground. We fled in the middle of the night, abandoning our properties including our farmlands. We fled to Maiduguri town as IDPs, depending solely on humanitarian aid for daily survival.”
With no prior experience in business, and with her husband still struggling to find other means of livelihood, it was difficult for Adarju to provide for her family. This has been the fate of millions of people in the Northeast region of Nigeria since the breakout of the insurgency. There are many communities affected by the conflict, and still to date rely solely on humanitarian aid to survive.
Through the Integrated Community Recovery and Resilience Programme in Borno State, funded by the European Union, UNDP and its partners including state government, implemented various initiatives in a bid to improve lives of conflict affected persons. This is done via programmes such as community safety and security; restoration of essential infrastructure and basic services; and provision of livelihood opportunities for households in the affected communities. These programmes are critical as they promote recovery through a ‘Build Back Better’ approach. As people rebuild their homes and livelihoods, UNDP and its partners work with them to improve living standards and pursue diversification of livelihoods.
Adarju went on recounting her story, “I had a chance to join the vocational skills training programme rolled out by UNDP and was trained in poultry production for three months. From there, I decided to seek further education and eventually earned a diploma in Animal Health and Production from Mohammad Goni College of Agriculture in Maiduguri”.
“There couldn’t have been a better time than now” continued Ardaju. “For example, I never knew how to develop a business plan,” she said. “It is gratifying that through this project, UNDP trained us on how to draft a business plan, including financial management and record-keeping. After the training, I used the start-up fund to build a poultry pen and began my own business with 94 chickens. The profit I made from the poultry business, then motivated me to expand into fishery.”
From the start of the project until now, 790 beneficiaries (375 female and 415 male) have been supported by the provision of grants to start or expand their own businesses. The areas of businesses include car maintenance, welding, livestock rearing, trading, hair dressing, and tailoring. This has helped to lessen the dependence on humanitarian aid, thereby making the community self-resilient.
For about eight months, Adarju’s husband had been without salary but because of targeted early recovery programmes, the poultry and fishery businesses have been the sole sources of income for her family. Now, Adarju and her husband can pay their children’s school fees and other bills with proceeds from these businesses. Early recovery programmes are vital to the first efforts of a community to recover. It prepares the ground for an effective ‘exit strategy’ for humanitarian actors and contributes to ‘durable solutions’ by establishing the base on which nationally led development occurs after a crisis.
Adarju is among the many women that have achieved tremendous results with the UNDP start-up cash grant. Through the initiative, she and other targeted women under the scheme have experienced massive improvements in their livelihoods, providing them with needed capacity to take care of their families and be self-resilient.