With UN support, IDPs in northeast Nigeria learn new skills to change their lives

Mrs Onochie explains the processes at the Malakiyari Aquaculture Training Centre, Maiduguri

By Dr. KELECHI ONYEMAOBI

Internally displaced persons camps in various parts of Maiduguri, Borno State, northeast Nigeria, bubbled with livelihood activities just before they shut down in August 2022 – as the men and women perfected new skills that would help them to feed their families when they returned to their home communities.

The UN World Food Programme worked with partners and government authorities to assist the IDPs to learn new skills in farming, aquaculture, food processing, tailoring, shoe-making, soap-making, carpentry and other activities that will enable them to generate income and rebuild their lives even as they return to their home communities.

Dresses and other items produced by the IDPs

These livelihood activities, delivered by WFP and its partners to IDPs, are a major aspect of WFP’s mandate of “saving lives and changing lives” among the vulnerable people and communities it serves in Nigeria.

At the Aquaculture Training Centre in Malakyarari village, in the outskirts of Maiduguri Metropolitan Council, healthy, matured catfish bobbled up and down in tens of large fish tanks – gulping food and water intermittently. The farm, managed and operated by WFP-supported beneficiaries, contained over 2,500 fish altogether, raised from seedlings to maturity by the participant-beneficiaries.

Matured fishes produced at the Malakiyari Aquaculture Training Centre Maiduguri

“This is an integrated artificial Fish Farming project and Aquaculture Training Centre,” said Mrs. Nana Christopher Onochie, the Christian Aid Aquaculture Programme Officer who managed the project. “The participants received N17, 000 WFP cash each per month and worked 15 days monthly in the fish farm.”

Fish tanks

The Aquaculture Training Centre covered a full range of activities including the following:
Training of some 94 participant-beneficiaries
Fish farming (from fish seedlings to maturity)
Fish-feed formulation and production (with feed-pelleting machines)
Fish processing (like fish-smoking, etc.)

The trained participant-beneficiaries pass on their skills to others, thereby increasing the number of persons with sufficient skills to produce fish for their immediate family food needs and to generate some income by selling their surplus fish in the local markets.

Indeed, over 930 households (some 4,600 individuals) benefitted from some 20 WFP-sponsored income generating activities in Malakyararai alone since the project started in the community last year. The beneficiaries received WFP cash plus inputs and training in the different income generating activities. The beneficiaries also received some basic training in business and financial management and records keeping – to empower them with the knowledge to manage their small businesses. They were linked with markets to ensure that they could sell their products both within and outside their communities. They were also linked with Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) where they could get some revolving loans to scale up their businesses.

Items made by the IDPs

Hajara Abubakar, 50, is a widow with seven children. Hajara and her family were displaced several years ago from Jere Local Government Area in Borno State when armed fighters attacked her community. Her uncle lost his life in the attack; her youngest son was abducted and she has not seen him again.

“There is nothing that my eyes have not seen. The pain is too much,” Hajara said. However, as one of the beneficiaries of the WFP-supported Income Generating Activities programme in Malakyararai, Hajara has rebuilt her life and is taking good care of her family.

Hajara makes bean cakes and pan-cakes which she sells in the community. “Everybody buys my bean cakes and pan cakes,” Hajara said. “Yes, we all buy from her,” chorused her friends and neighbours who sat together with her on a mat in their compound.

“The Income Generating Activities (IGA) Programme has had a very high rate of positive impact in the household incomes of the people of this community,” said Michael Adzembeh, IGA Officer with Christian Aid, a WFP partner. “We are looking to achieve a sustainable source of livelihood for the beneficiaries so that they can be self-reliant and improve the economic well-being of their households”.

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