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Background on Humanitarian Needs in Northeast Nigeria Caused by Boko Haram Conflict

Contributed by Peter Bulthuis - World Renew, Associate Director Church Relations

North Eastern Nigeria has a long history of being ruled by conservative Islamic leaders and many people continued to not send their children to what were perceived as western schools as the country modernized.
In 2002, in Maiduguri, Muslim cleric Mohammed Yusuf formed Boko Haram and set up a religious complex, which included a mosque and an Islamic school. The school became a recruiting ground, of mostly poor children, for a jihadist movement.

In 2009, Boko Haram carried out a spate of attacks on police stations and other government buildings in Maiduguri, capital of Borno state. Mohammed Yusuf was killed and it was thought the movement died too. But a new leader, Abubakar Shekau, stepped up the insurgency. In 2013, the U.S. designated Boko Haram a terrorist organization as it developed links with Al-Qaeda.

The ongoing Boko Haram conflict in northeast Nigeria has displaced 1.8 million people from their homes, and left over 20,000 people dead. This has put an enormous strain on local resources and services. Up to 3.6 million people, displaced and residents, are considered to be food insecure. The violence has forced many families to flee their ancestral land and the crops they have depended on for the economic wellbeing. Without access to these crops, families are living in situations of extreme poverty. Further, many of these displaced families fled violence so quickly that they did not have the ability to take other important assets to buy food and other important supplies. Families often go to sleep hungry, and malnutrition and food insecurity are significantconcerns.

On top of this, a large portion of the population in this region have little or no access to clean water, sanitation, shelter, education or primary health care.

Last year, famine was declared in some areas because the situation had become so severe – a sign of how catastrophic the situation is; such a declaration is a statement that people are dying because of starvation and many others are suffering from malnutrition.

Families continue to experience significant levels of hunger and assistance is needed now. With no signs of the conflict stopping, assistance will also be needed for months to come.


World Renew’s Response

Since February 2017, World Renew has been working in the region of northeast Nigeria close to the city of Maiduguri with local partnerZOA Nigeria. This project has been providing 750 families with cash each month so that they can purchase what they need the most. The decision was made to provide cash as it gives families the dignity and freedom to spend it on their priority needs. For most families, this is food. While this assistance made a difference in the lives of families, the problems have not gone away. Conflict continues and thousands remain in precarious situations without the resources to consistently purchase enough food. Because of the ongoing needs,

World Renew has committed to providing ongoing assistance to vulnerable families until at least November. Through this response, World Renew aims to reduce suffering and increase and maintain human dignity for some of the most vulnerable persons. This response will provide cash assistance to 7,200 vulnerable persons, including those displaced by the violence and other families from the region who were living in poverty even before the conflict began. Priority will be placed on the most vulnerable, including female-headed households, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with disabilities. This response will cost $1 million.

World Renew is expected to contribute 20% of the cost ($200,000), and will receive a 4:1 match from the Canadian government for every $1 given – totaling $800,000.

The needs are significant, and if sufficient funds are raised, it could be possible to help even more families than 7,200, as initially planned.

Funds raised through the “I Am Not My Own” tour by Jeremy Benjamin for World Renew’s work through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank will be directed to this project.


More information about World Renew's work in Nigeria can be found here

More information about the Canadian Foodgrains Bank work in Nigeria can be found here here