Photo: Sida/Anna Sahlén Ramazzotti
Our humanitarian aid in Nigeria
In Africa’s largest economy Nigeria, a conflict is under way that has forced more than 2 million people to flee from their homes. 14 million people are in need of humanitarian aid and a shortage of food and security is affecting far more, especially women and children.
Now in its eighth year, the on-going conflict in north-eastern Nigeria has struck 26 million people and more than 14 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in the country.
The crisis in Nigeria has worsened in recent years, but has been under way for a long time. The conflict areas have mainly been between the richer southern parts of the country and the poorer northern parts. The revenues from the oil industry, which made Nigeria a middle-income country and Africa’s largest economy, have been distributed unevenly and reinforced the differences in resources and development.
The largest threat to the civil population is starvation. 5.2 million people are suffering an acute shortage of food and nutrition. Nigeria is also being affected by outbreaks of Lassa fever, meningitis and cholera and because of overloading of the existing healthcare system, there is a considerable vulnerability to such disease outbreaks.
Security is another major problem. Since 2009, more than 20,000 people have lost their lives in Boko Haram’s attacks on civilians or in confrontations between this group and the Nigerian military. Women and girls have been subjected to kidnapping and sexual violence, and men and boys have been executed.
Even children have a particularly vulnerable position in Nigeria. 4.25 million children are in need of humanitarian aid and the destruction of schools and expulsion of teachers prevent many from going to school. At present, 3 million children are estimated to lack access to compulsory school education.
The conflict also affects people’s livings. In north-eastern Nigeria, this mainly consists of agriculture, but as the assets have been destroyed and access to land is very limited, the farmers have been prevented from being able to sow their crops for several years. They have thereby been deprived of income possibilities and food prices have risen. In many areas, there is also no access to a market, which makes people dependent on external food aid.
More than 2 million people are refugees, most of them internal refugees. 184,000 people have been registered as refugees in the neighbouring countries of Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
Since 2016, Nigerian forces have succeeded in pushing back Boko Haram – which has meant that nearly one million people have been able to return to their home regions. However, many have not been able to return to their homes and are instead forced to live in internal refugee camps under harsh conditions.
However, there are obstacles to humanitarian aid being able to get to them. The on-going violence makes it difficult to conduct measures in many areas. Deficient financing and difficulties finding competent personnel prevent the humanitarian sector from scaling up capacity and response – especially when new areas become available to humanitarian aid. Even population movements affect efforts as there is a lack of information on the number of returnees, which makes it difficult to map and prioritise humanitarian needs.
Sida’s support of Nigeria
In 2016, Sida’s support of Nigeria was SEK 158.5 million, of which SEK 55 million went to the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) for the establishment of a base camp for humanitarian efforts in the city of Maiduguri in north-eastern Nigeria.
On the basis of the crisis’ serious nature, Sida’s support goes mainly to lifesaving efforts for the most vulnerable groups. In north-eastern Nigeria, the situation is serious in terms of protection and food and nutrition safety, which is why these areas are our foremost priority.
Sida’s humanitarian aid to Nigeria is targeted at the 6.9 million people who are in need of lifesaving measures in three states where Boko Haram’s presence is the most tangible and where the humanitarian needs are the greatest: Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.
Sida also works to increase people’s and communities’ resilience and for sustainable solutions for people affected by the crisis by promoting the possibility of sustenance and basic social services.
Examples of Sida’s support
Action contre la faim (ACF): In Nigeria, ACF mainly works in the areas of nutrition, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) and employment. ACF will also scale up its effort by offering cash aid in the areas that have functioning markets. Access to water is a major challenge in north-eastern Nigeria and ACF therefore works to improve access to water by repairing and drilling wells. To reduce the operating costs and improve the conditions for sustainability, the pumps for the wells are run on solar cells.
Plan International: Plan International has increased its presence in north-eastern Nigeria and works with protection for children affected by the crisis, education, food safety and promoting people’s possibility for sustenance. The activities include cash-based support for nearly 1,000 families to contribute to their possibility to buy food and other necessities. The parents are also offered training to increase knowledge about how they can protect and take care of their children in crisis situations.
FAO: Since 2016, FAO has established an office in Maiduguri in north-eastern Nigeria and strongly increased it activities. The objective is to restore agricultural and livestock activities for internal refugees, returnees and especially vulnerable host families. Among other things, farmers outside Maiduguri receive support to grow vegetables. Returnees and especially vulnerable host families receive both training and material support in the form of crop plants, fertiliser and water pumps and can thereby strengthen their possibilities of self-sufficiency.