As of January 2022, Plateau state hosted 73,891 displaced people, according to IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix. The displacement and insecurity has negatively impacted the livelihoods of those forced to flee. Many who fled had no choice but to abandon all their possessions and arrived in new towns with no way of earning a living.
Farming to feed the family
Musa Ibrahim, 28, is a cattle herder that also occasionally farms to help complement his family’s food supply. He fled his village several years ago due to violence and, at the time, he had no other livelihood skills apart from livestock raising and farming. He is not alone. Thousands of other people in Plateau state have struggled to earn an income and feed their families after fleeing their homes.
In early 2021, we began providing livelihoods support along with information, counselling and legal assistance to affected communities. With the support of the German Cooperation for International Development (GIZ) and financed by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), we launched this multi-pronged intervention to boost livelihoods while simultaneously fostering peace amongst farmers and herders.
Musa’s family was one of 1,153 households that benefitted from this assistance. He received agricultural support in the form of fertilizer, grain and farming tools.
“Even though I am a herder, the farmers in this community gave me the land that I am staying in. They also gave me the land that I am farming on so that I can produce food for me and my family to eat. You and your team have helped us to achieve some peace in our community,” Musa told us. “I harvested quite a lot of maize this year, it is more than enough to feed my family, even my brothers and mother. I will sell some bags so that we can have some money to get other things we need in our homes.”
Cholli, 38, is a mother of nine children. Her story is not so different.
Unlike Musa, she is a farmer, but she also lost everything she had when she fled her village in 2014 with her husband and children. Although she was able to farm after settling in the community she fled to with her family, the harvest season did not yield enough and she could hardly support her family during the lean season. Ever since, they’ve had to manage with the meagre produce her farming activity yielded. In 2021, she also benefitted from our agricultural assistance.
“I am grateful for the support I received. We all know about these items but we could not get them because as we could not afford them. Now you are giving us the things we need to improve our farming free of charge,” Cholli said.
We are also providing support to prevent the outbreak of disease in livestock by vaccinating cattle.
Benjamin, 30, lost all his livestock when the homes in his community were torched, forcing him to flee. Some of his family were killed and those that survived were left with nothing.
After the attack, he returned with his farm to find only a handful of his goats remained. Many of the goats died due to a disease outbreak.
“We knew about the vaccines for animals but we could not buy them because we had no money. We lost some of our animals during an outbreak because they were not vaccinated. Now that we have these vaccines I know that my animals will do better and be healthy because they are now protected,” he said.
Job skills for youth
Another way that we are providing support to communities in Plateau state is through vocational skills training to youth aged 15-20 from both herder and farmer communities. The youth are able to choose to learn skills in either sewing, shoemaking, or hairdressing. Graduates receive start-up kits with all the tools and equipment they need to begin applying their new skills to earn an income.
“I am happy that NRC came to my community to teach us different skills, I have chosen to learn how to make shoes. I will make shoes and also teach other young people in my community when I am perfect at shoemaking,” said Christiana Paul, 20.
Since many violent clashes are linked to land and resource disputes, our Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA) team is providing training to community leaders on how to collaboratively resolve disputes. We also organise workshops to discuss various issues related to housing, land and property rights. These sessions provide a safe space for farmers and herders to discuss issues and resolve disputes peacefully among themselves.
James Jatau, 65, is a community leader in one of the communities we are working in.
“Before NRC came here we found it difficult to find a common platform to discuss issues affecting us in our communities. The ICLA team provided a platform,” said James. “The monthly community meetings and the experience sharing engagements enable us to sit together, both farmers and herders, to discuss communal problems. We sit without suspicion. The training on housing, land and property and collaborative dispute resolution has revived and strengthened our local dispute resolution mechanisms.”
The challenges facing those affected by this crisis are broad and far-reaching. This multi-sectoral intervention funded the German government who have reached us through GIZ has made it possible for many people to rebuild their lives and have more hope for the future.