Humanitarian and political background
Since 2009, violent attacks on civilians by the armed group Boko Haram have left widespread devastation in northeast Nigeria. At least 17,000 people have been killed and approximately two million people are displaced within Nigeria.
Over 14 million people in northeast Nigeria today are affected by the crisis caused by Boko Haram. Out of these, seven million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Around 92 per cent of displaced people reside in either informal settlements or with low-income host communities, creating a strain on already limited resources. The remaining 8 per cent live in more formalised camps.
NRC has been in Nigeria since 2015.
The conflict has led to violations of human rights and humanitarian law – indiscriminate killing, severe injuries, sexual violence, detention, disappearances and forced recruitment. Displacement is rampant. Forced to abandon their homes, Nigerians now live in constant fear. They are at high risk of forced eviction and further displacement.
Throughout the country, around 5.5 million people are in need of a safe and secure environment. Three million live in remote, hard-to-reach areas where their humanitarian needs are unknown.
The longer such groups are allowed to continue these horrific abuses, the more visibility and notoriety they gain, the harder it becomes to control their spread and impact – they must be stopped, and they must be stopped now.
Jan Egeland, NRC Secretary General
Women and children hit hardest
In Nigeria, displaced women and children are at the highest risk of abuse. About 32 per cent of displaced households are female-headed households.
Overcrowding in camps and settlements is a worrying concern. Pushed to the margins, women and children don't always succeed at finding the basic means to survive. Limited water points have led to overcrowding and the need to travel long, unsafe distances to collect water. The lack of electricity for lighting leaves women at particular risk when using the sanitation facilities at night.
Older people and people with disabilities share the same struggle.
Poor water and hygiene conditions
There are 3.6 million Nigerians without safe water, 1.9 million without basic sanitation, and 6.2 million people without proper hygiene facilities.
A lack of knowledge of hygiene, along with a scarcity of basic items like soap, pervades the country. Humanitarian agencies have prioritised only water and sanitation; many new latrines are without hand washing stations. Dire conditions have already resulted in a cholera outbreak in camps and host communities in Maiduguri
These conditions, compounded by a lack of proper waste management and inadequate latrines, have led to widespread open defecation.
People we helped in Nigeria in 2016
NRC in Nigeria
Through our Nigeria programme, we bring lifesaving assistance to displaced Nigerians.
We meet the needs of communities affected by displacement, saving lives and helping them rebuild their futures. We undertake routine assessments so we know who needs our help the most.
NRC has offices in Abuja and Maiduguri.
We deliver emergency assistance to Nigerians who have recently fled their homes, and we help them prepare for the likelihood of spending a long time in displacement.
That's our hope, to go back and continue the farming we used to do.
Saleh (50), internally displaced at Bakasi camp.
An estimated 3.9 million people require food assistance, and most have lost their farms. Communities hosting the displaced also suffer, sharing their meagre resources for months on end.
Our food security teams:
- Distribute food baskets and electronic cash transfers for food and household items.
- Give training sessions on food production, for those whose livelihoods have been damaged by violence and displacement.
- Provide cash grants for business opportunities and backyard vegetable gardens.
We are currently providing emergency food assistance to 1,600 of the most vulnerable people with food baskets covering all of their nutritional needs. We are in the process of supporting an additional 1,000 people for four months of emergency food distribution using electronic vouchers.
At least 1.6 million Nigerians are in need of emergency shelters. They are living in makeshift shelters and seeking refuge in overcrowded, poorly resourced camps settings or local communities. Shelters constructed in camps have been predominantly temporary, emergency shelters not meant for long-term use. Outside of camps, semi-permanent shelters used by displaced people are in ruins. Our shelter teams:
- Construct shelters in camps and urban areas.
- Distribute cash e-vouchers, to purchase shelter materials from pre-approved shops.
- Improve infrastructure, such as sewers.
We recently built 950 shelters for vulnerable people living in camps and cities.
Information, counselling and legal assistance (ICLA)
In some cases, housing, land and property (HLP) disputes can limit displaced Nigerians' access to shelter and land. Some rights and services in Nigeria are only available after producing a certain dossier of legal identity documents. Cultural norms mean that women and minority groups are particularly likely to face challenges. Our ICLA teams:
- Provide free legal counselling on HLP rights and legal documentation.
- Strengthen security of tenure for displaced Nigerians living in urban areas, where unclear rental and land property agreements can result in forced evictions and multiple displacements.
- Assist in the Collaborative Dispute Resolution (CDR) process to resolve legal disputes.
- Provide training for Nigerian government officials and employees of INGOs working in socio-economic departments on HLP rights.
- Provide training for employees in formal and informal legal bodies on protecting displaced people and HLP rights.
Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)
In settlements and camps, hygiene promotion is vital to preventing the outbreak of diseases such as cholera. Our WASH teams work inside and outside of camps. Our WASH activities:
- Provide safe water and hygiene kits.
- Construct latrines, hand washing and bathing facilities, in coordination with our shelter teams.
- Conduct training sessions to promote good hygiene practices.
Recently, we provided safe water sources and built latrines, hand washing stations, and bathing facilities for 7,500 people. We also reached over 10,000 people on hygiene promotion through door-to-door campaigns and discussion groups, and distributed 500 hygiene kits.
About NRC in Nigeria
Knowing your rights in Nigeria
For many families displaced by war in north-east Nigeria, knowing your rights can make all the difference between having a roof over your head and becoming homeless.
Forcing displaced Nigerians may worsen crisis
Forcing displaced Nigerians to return home now is likely to worsen a fragile humanitarian crisis, argues Jan Egeland.