Rekindling hope in North-East Nigeria

Rekindling hope in northeast Nigeria

19/08/2016

On this World Humanitarian Day, we remember our commitment to leave no one behind as we recognize our shared humanity. In northeast Nigeria, where many farming households have been unable to plant and harvest for up to three consecutive seasons, rapidly kickstarting food production and agricultural livelihoods is critical to reduce hunger and build self-sufficiency. “FAO will draw from its’ experiences in many parts of Africa recently especially Central African RepublicSouth Sudan, the three Ebola ravaged countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and elsewhere to compliment government efforts to get people like Boli and thousands of others who lost their livelihoods to recover from the insurgency”, said Bukar Tijani, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

‘They burnt my house, I fled my hometown and now I have to start all over again'

Boli is a young mother of three who fled her village near Wasaram, in Borno State, after a violent attack from Boko Haram. She recalls with sadness: ‘They burnt my house, I fled my hometown and now I have to start all over again'. She settled in the Kukareta informal Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp two years ago in Yobe State, where more than 10,000 displaced families currently live. The most vulnerable households among them received emergency agricultural support from FAO during the current rainy season.

This is the first time that Boli has had the chance to engage in farming activities since she arrived in the camp. Over the past two years, she was unable to buy seeds, a situation she had never had before. “The village head allowed me to cultivate one hectare of land, within 10 minute walk from the camp. I was so happy when I prepared the field!”

So far, Boli has had no income except the little money she earned by selling wood she collected in the area. And even with the support of some villagers who shared some food in the most trying times, she hardly managed to prepare more than one meal per day. “My husband left us only six months after we came here. He couldn’t stand to stay just doing nothing, and see us hungry. I am now alone with my three children”. Boli received 18 kg of improved varieties of sorghum and cowpea seeds, and fertilizers. The harvest will start in end September, and is expected to cover the family food needs for up to ten months.

“Cowpea is a locally adapted and highly nutritious pulse, densely packed with proteins. It is an excellent complementary food for infants and young children,” explained Amadou Diop, FAO Emergency Response Officer. “It is also in high demand on local markets and farmers will even be able to sell part of what they grew to earn some money, buy other food items and diversify their diets.”

As Boli returns from the field at the end of the day, she shares her thoughts about what the future holds: “I got some news from my village. Fighting is still going on. But when the situation improves, I want to go back there and restart my life. I am back at work, I feel stronger now”.