Since violent attacks of Boko Haram started to spill over Nigeria’s North-Eastern frontier in 2014, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger have been drawn into what has become a devastating regional conflict. At the same time, the nation like some countries of the world is threatened by disaster from natural forces. This is even as climate change, worsening flood, and drought have contributed to the humanitarian situation in the country.
To date, the Lake Chad Basin region is grappling with a complex humanitarian emergency. Over 3.2 million people are displaced, including over 2.9 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in north-eastern Nigeria, over 684,000 IDPs in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, and 304,000 refugees in the four countries, according to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency.
The crisis has been exacerbated by conflict-induced food insecurity and severe malnutrition, which have risen to critical levels in all four countries. Despite the efforts of governments and humanitarian aid, some 12.5 million people remain in need of humanitarian assistance in the Lake Chad Basin region, with 5.3 million people remaining food insecure.
The 2022 World Humanitarian Day (WHD) campaign shines a light on the thousands of volunteers, professionals, and crisis-affected people who deliver urgent health care, shelter, food, protection, water, and much more. With record-high humanitarian needs around the world, this year’s WHD builds on this metaphor of collective endeavour to increase global appreciation of humanitarian work.
Against the backdrop of these, Nigeria is currently a host to over 73,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, fleeing violence zones in Cameroon, out of which 67,000 are women and the rest are men and children, according to the UNHCR report.
What is Humanitarian Ministry doing to help?
The creation of the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development by President Muhammadu Buhari on 21st August, 2019 and the appointment of Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq as the minister were significant developments for the country and among the best decisions made by the government. Given that the ministry was conceived and born at a time of severe humanitarian crises and complex threats by extreme climatic events.
To ameliorate humanitarian crises in the country, Umar Farouq said since the establishment of the Ministry in 2019 it has not deviated from its vision to create sustainable and inclusive social systems that promote human dignity in Nigeria.
Umar Farouq added that natural disasters and man-made crises across the country have adversely impacted the lives and the well-being of many Nigerians and deprived millions of vulnerable and poor people of basic human needs which results in
worsening humanitarian crises.
“It is estimated that about 7.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in the North East region alone while a total of about 1.8 million people are internally displaced as a result of disasters, conflicts, insurgencies, and terrorism.
“Climate change is also a factor that
contributes to the humanitarian situation, worsening floods, and drought that depletes arable land resources in the country,” she said.
In addressing this situation, Umar Farouq said the Ministry has developed policies and plans that positively impact the victims of these crises and alleviate their conditions in line with the vision and commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
To ameliorate the sufferings of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), she said the National Policy on IDPs was an instrument that guides stakeholders in managing the affairs of the affected individuals, and this policy was approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2021.
To achieve its goal, she said the policy also incorporates the provisions of the Kampala Convention on IDPs in Africa.
“We are currently in the process of domesticating the convention through a standalone legislation.
“During the recent celebration of World Humanitarian day in Maiduguri Borno State, President Buhari directed the Ministry and its Agencies to come up with specific programmes to address urgent threats posed by explosive remnants in the North East region as well as ensure the unimpeded return of IDPs to their ancestral homes in the region,” she said.
The minister said the National Social Investment Program (NSIP) , a flagship initiative of the present administration, was designed to tackle the issues of poverty, unemployment, and other vulnerabilities which are implemented across the 36 States of the Federation and the Federal Capital Territory.
“The N-Power programme includes Job Creation Unit (N-Power), National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP), Government Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP), Conditional Cash Transfer (CT), Independent Monitors,” she said.
Through the N-Power programme, she said the Ministry has empowered over 1 million Nigerian youths from 2015 to date.
“These comprises of graduates and non-graduates, especially the vulnerable ones. A myriad of programmes are also being carried out to empower various categories of N-power beneficiaries with life-sustaining skills such as N-Health, N-Agro, and N-Teach components while the non-graduate programmes include training in N-Tech for software and hardware development, N Creative, and N-Build. N-Power is one out of the many success stories of NSIPs,” she said.
However, as Nigerians join other countries in the world to celebrate the 2022 WHD, President Muhammadu Buhari and the vice presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Kashim Shettima, and top State government officials arrived Maiduguri on a one-day official visit.
President Buhari, during the visit, commissioned the Teacher’s Quarters at Bulumkuttu Railway junction, 500 Resettlement Houses at Molai, and unveiled humanitarian support to the vulnerable people.
Meanwhile, ahead of the President’s visit, the minister of Humanitarian Affairs flagged off the Cash Grant for Vulnerable Groups in Maiduguri.
Umar Farouq during the flag-off said that a total of 5,264 beneficiaries from across the 27 local government areas of Borno State would receive the one-off cash grant of N20,000.
In her address delivered at the International Conference Centre, State Secretariat Maiduguri, the minister explained that Borno state ranks among the highest number of beneficiaries due to the impact of insurgency in the region.
She said, “Our target in Borno State is to disburse the grant to 5,264 beneficiaries across the 27 Local Government Areas of the State. This is one of the highest slots in the country and this is because we put into account the impact of insurgency and the large number of Internally Displaced Persons in the state.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, through his deliberate social inclusion agenda has directed that 70 per cent of these beneficiaries must be women, while the remaining 30 per cent is for the youths. He also directed that at least 15 per cent of the total number of beneficiaries must be allocated to citizens with special needs, including Persons With disabilities (PWDs) and Senior Citizens in the State. It is on this note that we encourage the Borno State government to note and emulate this gesture and extend similar interventions to amplify social inclusion through its policies, programmes, and projects”.
According to Umar Farouq, the target of the Cash Grant project is to increase the income and productive assets of the target beneficiaries.
“It is highly expected that the beneficiaries will use the grant to improve their productivity, create wealth, generate employment and improve their living standard”.
Commending the Social Investment Programmes of the Federal government, the governor of Borno state, Prof. Babagana Umara Zulum expressed his gratitude to President Buhari for his concern for humanitarian issues in the state.
He testified to the impact made on numerous beneficiaries by the various Social investment programmes.
The minister also flagged off the Digitized Payment System for the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) Programme to improve payment, transparency, accountability and enable the generation of reliable payment data and records.
Benefitting households under this programme will be paid N5,000 monthly for 2 years. In addition, 1,500 Internally Displaced persons will also receive a token of N50,000, including persons with disabilities and senior citizens.
The minister also distributed starter packs to 168 beneficiaries of the N-Skills scheme to enable them to consolidate their technical and entrepreneurial skills. Each will also receive a stipend of N10,000 monthly during the period of training and attachment.
In a related programme, minister Umar Farouq onboarded 107 Independent Monitors in Maiduguri and presented engagement letters and monitoring devices to some of the monitors. Each will receive N30,000 monthly for one year.
Meanwhile, the National Sensitization Exercise for the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) was also flagged off in Borno State. The awareness programme seeks to educate communities and stakeholders on more effective ways of implementing the School Feeding Programme.
The inclusion of five million children approved by President Buhari added to an already existing 9.9 million children currently being fed nationwide, necessitating the sensitization on the implementation of the value chain.
In attendance were the Heads of the Ministry’s Agencies, Directors of the Ministry, women leaders, and the state Focal Person.