FAO, WFP, UN Women complete EU livelihood projects in Borno
By Tada JUTHA, Maiduguri
The Country Representative of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), Fred Kafeero has said that the EU projects are to restore ‘conflict-affected livelihoods’ through sustainable agriculture in Borno State.
According to him, the projects are implemented by FAO, UN Women and the World Food Programme.
While celebrating the livelihood projects on Tuesday in Maiduguri, the state capital, he disclosed: “The completion of these projects is to enhance food security and strengthen resilience among conflict-affected people in the state.
He said that the community-based projects are for building peace and sustainable development for smallholder farmers.
He added that this is to restore and promote sustainable agriculture-based livelihoods for food security, employment and nutrition.
“Before the outbreak of the conflict, livelihoods in rural communities were centred on subsistence farming,” noting that people’s livelihoods depended on pastoralism, backyard poultry production, fishery, and crop production.
He said smallholder farmers lost their agricultural assets to the conflict, adding that this resulted in high rates of youth unemployment, food shortages, malnutrition, increased poverty and gender-based violence (GBV).
According to him, these are the means to restore their livelihoods and sustained food needs.
He further disclosed that the project has managed to transform the lives of people in thousands of households in the state.
He noted the transformation was made through crop production, livestock restocking and agricultural business development.
The transformation; include safe access to fuel and energy, irrigation, among others to enable the people to pick up their lives.
“With relative stability, many people are now settling down again in their liberated communities,” he declared.
On how livelihoods were restored, he said: “Someone who could not afford a meal while in the camps for the internally displaced people (IDPs), is today able to grow enough food for the family,” adding that the IDP could also sell the surplus to earn income.
He said the EU project has also been instrumental in making a lasting change in people’s lives by sustainably rebuilding livelihoods.
While expressing gratitude to Governor Babagana Zulum, he said: “We look forward to continued collaboration for the good of the people of the State.
“FAO appreciates the UN Agencies that have been working together on this cause, including the UN Women and World Food Programme (WFP),” adding that WFP provided emergency food and cash assistance of N2.5 billion as safety nets.
“While FAO strengthens the capacity for enhanced and sustainable agricultural livelihoods.”
He said the UN Women played a pivotal role in the targeting and empowering of vulnerable women, as they contributed to restoring people’s destroyed means of livelihood.
The Representative of UN Women, Comfort Lamptey, also said: “Since 2018 we have been working with all key stakeholders to design and implement interventions that focus on protection and empowerment of women and girls.
She said that the interventions are to build people’s resilience through livelihood opportunities, capacity building with leadership participation in decision making.
“The women decided to implement recovery programs to build the resilience of conflict-affected populations with success,” she said.
In the implementation of the project, she said: “Over 1, 000 women smallholder farmers have gained knowledge in cooperative management, entrepreneurship, and financial management,” adding that they are expanding their agricultural businesses.
She said about 40 agricultural extensions and social workers have expanded their knowledge on gender mainstreaming in agriculture practices.
She said the project has also touched lives, as illustrated by Amina Musa, a mother of 10, who lived peacefully in Gwoza with her husband until armed insurgents raided her home in 2014.
“Her husband was killed by the insurgents, forcing her to run with her children for safety to live in an IDP camp,” she lamented, but Amina with the EU project received 12 chicks and corporative skills as a start-up to pick up her life.
According to her, Amina has succeeded in scaling up and sold over 17 rams and is currently diversified into buying and selling honey.
She said many other women through this project have been empowered and earning a sustainable livelihood to enable them to invest more.