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40 women emerge producers in World Bank’s slum project

The second edition of the World Bank’s “Connecting Communities Campaign” ended in Nigeria with the training of 40 women in an urban slum community in endeavours to give them a measure of financial independence.

The community is Gbagalape, a densely populated community in Abuja’s Nyanya district cut off from the urban amenities and infrastructure that are common sight in the nation’s capital.

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Half of the women were trained in making household cleaning products for sale, the other half trained in bead making.

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Their training was facilitated by the Citizen’s Health, Education and Development Initiative (CHEDI) and funded with funds pooled from the salaries of World Bank staff in Nigeria, as part of their contribution to the bank’s campaign to connect communities.

A leader of the women of Gbagalape, Charity Bege, said learning skills women could monetise was a key step to helping their families out of poverty.

“I spend a lot of my income buying cleaning products. Now I can make them and sell them and even have some for use. That will save me money,” said Bege.

“During my daughter’s last birthday, I spent N1,500 buying beads for her dresses. And to think this is something I could easily have made for her by myself.”

Women in Gbagalape have repeatedly complained about depressing economic situation in the community-of unemployed husbands taking to drink and dying of alcohol abuse and dejection.

The choice of Gbagalape to empower women exposes the deplorable conditions of urban slums tucked into the country’s capital city.

“Empowering people to earn a living has been a very serious issue because the economy is not what it used to be,” said Matthew Ashikeni, director of Special Duties in the Federal Capital Territory’s human services administration.

“This is what empowerment is all about. You are taught to produce things people need,” he said.

The 40 women spent nine hours each day for four weeks until their graduation and certification from the programme last weekend.

The project in 2019 expanded to include provision of hospital equipment to six primary health centres dotted across the FCT, said CHEDI executive director Selina Enyioha.

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