Resilience
Northeast Nigeria: making a difference where it is needed most

Northeast Nigeria: making a difference where it is needed most

02/12/2015

In Northeast Nigeria, insecurity has forced millions of people to leave their homes and in the process lose their livelihoods, predominantly based on agriculture. A large number of them have found refuge in several towns and villages of the Adamawa State. In Yola South, one of Adamawa Local Government Area (LGA), Joda Saliou is a resident and a farmer who cultivates a small plot of land to feed her family. She raises her nine children with her husband, a bricklayer that has worked for many years in the area. The family used to make a decent living, until the Boko Haram insurgency suddenly disrupted their life.

By the end of 2014, Joda received a call from her relatives living in Michika and Mubi as they were fleeing their hometown under insurgency. It is with open arms that she welcomed them a few days later: ‘They had nowhere to go and I was happy to offer the comfort of our home, even if it rapidly seemed too small! I also had to buy much more food on the market to prepare meals for everybody. At least they were safe here with us, hoping for better days to come soon’.

But the following weeks and months have brought their share of bad news. The security situation remained extremely volatile, and following the downturn on local construction, her husband lost his income. The family rapidly ran down its money and savings and could not buy food. At one point, they were forced to borrow money to cover their growing food and medical expenses.

It is in this context that Joda and her family benefited from FAO’s agricultural and food assistance. At the peak of the lean season, from June to September 2015, her relatives received food baskets that enabled them to cover their food needs for three months. Joda recalls ‘This food came right in time, as I could only cook once or twice a day back then. Some days we even had to join our neighbour to eat.’

Joda, who was lacking the inputs to cultivate her plot this year, received also cowpeas and maize seeds from FAO, sufficient to cultivate one hectare of land. At the beginning of the growing season, she was concerned as irregular rains threatened her crops. Standing in her field, she expressed much satisfaction at the time of harvest ‘Look at this corn! I am so happy. I can now pick it and use it to feed the whole family for the next two to three months’.

As she explains that this assistance was a breath of fresh air, her smile soon vanishes ‘I am still so worried for my children. I want to give them better options, I don’t want them to live like this, I feel powerless’. She looks the other way and adds ‘I have received a letter for the school fees yesterday. I can’t pay them.’

FAO has recently completed food distributions in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States to 6 475 households. FAO also distributed seeds to 7 568 households in Adamawa and Bauchi States to support vulnerable farmers during the 2015 agricultural season.

In parallel to responding to immediate food security needs, restoring productive assets and livelihoods in Northeast Nigeria is crucial to enable crisis-hit communities produce their own food, resume other livelihoods activities and take advantage of local opportunities.

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