Musa Hamidu Kida, the Executive Director of Damnaish Human Capacity Building Initiative (DHCBI), implementing partner of the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), speaks on the roles played by the intervention organs of the United Nations in providing succour to victims of Boko Haram insurgency in the North East. Excerpts:
Daily Trust: How can you describe the nature of the intervention of donor agencies like the WFP and FAO in bringing succor to victim of the insurgency in the North East?
Musa Hamidu Kida: The role of the agencies is about the most critical aspect in bringing about stability in the lives of vulnerable and unfortunate victims of the Boko Haram insurgency. The struggle to manage the insurgency is two faceted. On one hand, we have the armed struggle to defeat the insurgents and I must confess that the armed forces of Nigeria and their partners in the Chad Basin area have done excellently in the war to defeat the insurgency. Without the selflessness and professionalism of the security forces, the tranquility the whole of the North East enjoys will not have been possible. On the other hand, the intervention of the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in particular and the important roles such interventions have played in bringing about social security and enhanced livelihood for victims is equally a factor in the containment of the crisis. While the war was on, the crisis produced millions of displaced persons who lost all of their means of livelihood. These people had become destitute, hungry, displaced and have lost hope in their ability to survive the harsh realities of their unfortunate situations. The WFP and FAO filled those gaps in their lives by restoring their hopes, organizing them, providing food and other means of livelihood as well as ultimately providing training and resources for them to work and earn a living. That aspect is responsible for containing their anger, restoring their hopes to live and stopping them from venting their frustration in a manner that would have compounded an already perilous security situation.
DT: What exactly are these roles?
Kida: When WFP and FAO came onto the scene, they categorized victims of the insurgency into three. The first task they undertook was to give food to the victims whose first challenge was how to feed. The idea was to stabilize them before any other thing could have meaning to them. Secondly, as soon as their hunger was adequately managed, vouchers were given to them through local traders to make purchases of the food and other domestic materials they require. Routing the vouchers through local traders was meant to rejuvenate the local market and stop the needless capital flight were the purchases to be made from foreign sources. Thirdly, the agencies launched a program to train the victims to fend for themselves and give them means of livelihood. I will like to emphasize that the WFP and the FAO are central and crucial and have played leading roles in all these. WFP has done very well in introducing ‘’work-for-money’’ or ‘’work-for-food’’ policy to victims through which jobs that will benefit the community and provide social amenities to themselves will be undertaken by the same victims and they are handsomely paid. At the end of this round of training, each person will chose a skill he or she will be trained on so that the required input to start will be given to them. Some have chosen farming, some fishery, some animal husbandry, some tailoring and all that. The FAO on its part, give victims rainy and dry season input. It also train the farmer and play a role in animal restocking for those that have lost theirs. These include cattle, sheep, goats, fish and others. Several NGO’s have been engaged as implementing partners by the two agencies to cover all corners of the North East region. There is no part or community in the entire North East where the insurgency has touched that both the WFP and FAO have not reached and covered.
DT: To what extent is your organization, the DHCBI involved in these activities?
Kida: DHCBI is partnering both the WFP and FAO in the implementation of their programs and policies in a total of ten local government areas in Borno and Yobe states. In Borno state, we are visible in the Maiduguri Metropolis, Jere, Bama, Konduga, Kaga, Mafa and Damboa local government areas. In Yobe, we implement FAO programs in Damaturu, Potiskum and Jakusko local government areas.
DT: What are the signs that these programs have impacted on the people positively?
Kida: At each of the three stages I mentioned, it was when positive results are seen that the next stage is unfolded. The feeding program was meant to stabilize a hungry man. This is because nothing you say will make any meaning to him. The food that was used to stabilize him was purchased from markets outside his environment. When the man was stabilized, he is then given vouchers to buy his needs from the local market so that the money will circulate locally to rejuvenate the market. Again, efforts were made by the FAO in particular to replenish the victims’ animal stock, give the farmer input and train them in how best to organize their lives and free themselves from the attendant misery and squalor. I can tell you that the animals given to those that have lost theirs, including many women, have started multiplying. Many of those who collected four goats for instance, now have about twelve goats, many that were given bulls have either fattened them and sold them handsomely and restocked or have turned them for Ox-Plough to till their farms to sustain themselves. In the area of farming, many farmers have taken advantage of the assistance they received from FAO and are now into seasonal farming and into micro-gardening. DHCBI has been involved in the implementation of these programs for upward of three years today and I can tell you, without mincing words that the involvement of WFP and FAO in particular, has been a blessing in the management of the social aspect and overall security of the crisis-prone region. If you have been to many of the areas where people were hitherto displaced, you can see that markets are picking up there, people have returned, farmers are now engaged, security has greatly improved, hunger has been well contained and life has bounced back to normal.
DT: Are you confident that the beneficiaries of such intervention programs will recover in the long run?
Kida: I have never been more confident. In fact, there is no reason whatsoever to doubt the efficacy of the safeguards in the conceptualization of the intervention policy of both the WFP and FAO. Just look back at the scary picture of millions of displaced, traumatized and the special needs of persons affected by the pogrom. Personally, I had feared that if nothing is done to bring succor to this people, the humanitarian and social crisis that will follow was enough to scare the hell out of you. Just imagine the likely unruly nature and consequences of having people without jobs, food and shelter. Can anybody guess the magnitude of danger a man without livelihood and without hope can pose to the security of a nation? I think Nigerians have still not appreciated the noble intentions of the WFP and the FAO and the stability their intervention have brought about.
DT: Some people feel there is more to the involvement of these donor agencies in the Northeast than meets the eye..?
Kida: It is the height of insensitivity for anybody to read any ulterior meaning into the involvement of agencies such as WFP or FAO in the effort to assist those in dire need of it, in the collective ambition of humanity to stop humanitarian crisis of immense proportions. I am particular about the WFP and FAO because they have the biggest workload in the North East and all of them have a reputation for coming to the aid of vulnerable people for a very long time and all over the world. They are still in many flashpoints in many parts of the world doing the same humanitarian work they are doing in Nigeria. Everywhere you see the sign of any of the two agencies it signifies hope for the vulnerable regardless of any form of sentiment. The problem in Nigeria is that we like stereotyping everything. We read meanings into everything and it has become our nature to cry wolf where none exists. You read all sorts of theories suggesting untoward intentions on the part of donor agencies, forgetting that these agencies are everywhere and have done this same humanitarian work everywhere without anY hiccup.
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