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NIGERIAN AGRICULTURE: World Bank Partners WFP For Livelihoods Restoration In Borno State ----Tunde Oladundoye.

As a creative and novel response to persistent passionate pleas to the international community by Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, the World Bank, through its FADAMA project, and the World Food Programme (WFP), are collaborating to restore livelihoods of over 7, 500 conflict-affected households in the North-East State of Borno.

Since the Boko Haram terrorist group began its genocidal assault to take over the North East Nigeria in 2009, over 8 million people have been displaced, tens of thousands of children kidnapped, thousands of children forced into war either as child soldiers, sex objects or cannons for suicide bombs detonations. It was therefore not surprising that the Global Institute for Economics and Peace, in its 2016 Global Terrorism Index, rated the dreaded Boko Haram group as the deadliest terrorist organisation in the world.

The enormity of the reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement, as aptly captured by the “Three Rs” of the Borno Governor, Shettima Kashim, was not lost on the Nigerian President as he pleaded to world leaders during a high-level event on “The Humanitarian Crisis in the Lake Chad Basin: A Turning Point,” in New York, jointly-sponsored by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the African Union, the European Union and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on the margins of the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly that: “It is time for collective global action to invest in the people of Nigeria’s North-East and the Lake Chad Basin region. We are renewing the call for re-dedicated international action to end the humanitarian needs of victims and address the root causes of terrorism itself.” 

Same call was made by President Buhari in his address to the 72nd General Assembly of the UN in September, as he reported remarkable improvement in the war against insurgency and continuing efforts at wiping away the vestiges of the Boko Haram insurgency in the North East of Nigeria and Lake Chad Basin, even as he reiterated that: “these can only be achieved through the international community cooperating and providing critical assistance and material support.”

It was therefore a cheering and positive historical development in international and multilateral networking for humanity, when on October 4, just few dates after Nigeria’s 57th independence anniversary, the World Bank and the World Food Programme, (WFP), met at the Government House, Maiduguri, to sign a MoU on partnership between WFP and FADAMA III Additional Financing II. Through this partnership, FADAMA and WFP will collaborate in restoring livelihoods, stabilizing communities, through income generating activities, agriculture interventions, and social protection – cash-for work interventions.

Specifically, the project aims to increase asset ownership of beneficiaries involved in livestock and agricultural production with special focus on youth and women heads of households; and develop and maintain community assets through cash for work benefiting the most vulnerable community members including youth in peri-urban setting in Borno State. Initially targeting 7,500 households, implementation is planned to start in November 2017 for a period of 12 months.

The Country Director of the World Bank, Rachid Benmessaoud, represented by Senior Agriculture Economist and Fadama Task Team Leader at the World Bank, Dr. Adetunji Oredipe, informed that Fadama III Additional Financing II project has been effectively mobilized for rapid response to an emergency—specifically to contribute to the restoration of livelihoods for victims of violence and insecurity in the North East. In this regard, “US$50 million was approved by the Board of the World Bank in June 2016 in response to the urgent food and livelihood needs of farming households who have been affected by conflicts in the six North East states in Nigeria, namely Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Taraba, Bauchi, and Gombe.” The entire project resources, according to Oredipe, will be used to finance food security activities including food assistance, advisory and extension services, agricultural inputs and rehabilitation of infrastructure to help restore agriculture production and livelihoods of 24,000 farming households (approx. 192,000 individuals).

While assuring that the Fadama team “will continue to look for avenues and innovative ways of partnering with other willing agencies to push the frontier of enduring sustainable strategy to provide better life for the millions of affected people in Borno state and beyond”, Oredipe expressed appreciation for the political will of the government to successfully executive the project: “On behalf of my Country Director, Rachid Benmessaoud, our appreciation goes to His Excellency, Governor Shettima Kashim, and his counterparts in the six states of the North East, for providing the political support and conducive environment for the project team. I am happy to note that this project is succeeding because of your commitment and financial support”.

WFP’s Director of Field Operations, Dr. Tito Nikodimos, counting on his organisation’s experience worldwide and in Nigeria, enthused that: “we are happy to partner with FADAMA and to contribute to food security and restoring livelihoods in vulnerable households”. WFP targets 1.1 million in the three states Adamawa, Borno and Yobe covering 27 Local Government Areas in total. In its humanitarian response in the Northeast, WFP provides food or cash assistance where markets are fully functioning. In addition, specialized nutritious food is provided to children and pregnant and nursing mothers to prevent malnutrition. Between July and December 2016, the number of people reached by WFP increased from 85,000 to more than one million monthly. The partnership will, no doubt expand and deepen the reach in the next twelve months. 

For Borno’s Commissioner of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mohammed Aliyu Dili, the project could not have come at a better time. An earlier assessment by WFP showed an improvement in food production in the State. “Our people are now preparing and some are even harvesting their crops. In his words, “any assistance in whatever form will no doubt bridge the gap in restoring their livelihood and improving the food security, especially of the communities devastated by the insurgents”, he said.

The Borno Governor described the event as “special moment that marks a new page of cooperation between Fadama III Additional Financing II, a flagship project of the World Bank in the North East of Nigeria and the World Food Programme (WFP) here in Maiduguri”, saying the situation in Borno State, as you are all aware, calls for an initiative of this nature where strong partners will agree to come together latching on their individual strength to form a coalition to pursue a common course. The partnership, he believed, will make a positive impact in the lives of our people who are devastated by the insurgency. “This collaborative effort and trust mechanism inherent in the relationship between these two organizations, I belief, is a synergy that needs to be emulated by other agencies working in the same terrain for better and much more impactful development and results. He noted that the signing of the cooperation agreement on the well packaged intervention is poised to change the living condition of his people.” Going forward, “my Government will not only encourage, but will work closely with such partners with excellent ideas about how to better accelerate development and restoration of livelihoods especial in the LGAs located in the countryside”.

The National Project Coordinator of Fadama, Tayo Adewunmi posited that the partnership project will contribute to improving resilience for vulnerable households with particular focus on women headed households and unemployed rural and peri-urban youth exposed to severe food insecurity. The collaboration will also improve beneficiaries’ access to food and community assets with a positive impact to food security and nutrition. 

Fadama, a flagship project of the World Bank in Nigeria has been partnering with other agencies/partners, national and international, such as National Seed Council, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and a host of others, in the course of implementing its mandate.

Recently, the Third Fadama Development Project (P130788) has been honoured with the Africa VPU Team Awards announced by the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop. The Africa Region Award of Excellence is an annual event instituted by the African Region of the World Bank to recognize excellence in project management and evidence of pro-poor impact of development projects. Fadama III-AF was selected as a demonstration of an important example of how client-driven agricultural and rural development projects can have significant development impacts on the national economy.

Oladunjoye is the National Media Consultant to the Fadama Project in Nigeria

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