Response to conflict affected communities in Diffa Region, Niger
The scale of violence in North East Nigeria has increased dramatically in the last three years, with Boko Haram now considered the most deadly extremist organisation in the world in terms of the number of deaths they have caused.1 This violence has led to the displacement of more than 2.4 million people in the region, many of whom have now been displaced several times.2 This displacement as a result of violence has compounded the suffering of those in the Lake Chad region, which has already seen great suffering due to climate change and a lack of resources for a population that has expanded rapidly in recent years.3
Women and children make up the majority of the region’s displaced people and UNFPA estimates that a considerable amount of the women who are displaced are pregnant putting them in urgent need of antenatal, maternal and post-partum care. Lack of access, insecurity and underfunding has led to the under provision of basic supplies and this has been exacerbated by the arrival of this year’s rainy season, which caused an increase in diarrheal and respiratory tract diseases, as well as an increase in the incidence of malaria and even cholera. Women, who are often unaccompanied, are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence when going to retrieve water.4
Against this backdrop, GOAL has begun expanding its programme in the Diffa region of Southern Niger, where an estimated 240,000 displaced people have fled over the border from Northern Nigeria. In February 2016 GOAL began the distribution of emergency kits to vulnerable persons in Diffa region, including those who have been affected by the conflict in Northern Nigeria. The kits contain basic essential items- soap, jerry cans, blankets, and mosquito nets – but for some beneficiaries it was the first time they had access to anything like this since they had been uprooted by the conflict.
GOAL complimented this distribution work by working with the local health system. In an effort to strengthen a system that had been stretched to cope with the arrival of vulnerable families, GOAL supported the District Health Office with two additional nurses to provide primary healthcare and midwifery services in the Diffa region, and also provided 2 additional staff for Expanded Programme on Immunisation outreach activities.
1 Institute for Economics and Peace (2015) Global Terrorism Index, p2
2 Reuters Foundation (2016) Lake Chad Basin is world’s most neglected humanitarian crisis – U.N. aid chief. Available at: http:// news.trust.org/item/20160524181019-53nxy/
3 ACTED (2015) In the Lake Chad Region, populations are trapped between climate change and insecurity http://www.acted.org/ en/lake-chad-basin-populations-are-trapped-between-climate-change-and-insecurity
4 UN News Centre (2016) Niger: UNICEF reports more than 240,000 uprooted from homes in Diffa region. Available at: www.un.org/ apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=54284#.V8W4nfkrL-s
- The training provided by the programme and the secondment of nurses in the region helped minimise the potential shock to the health system from the increased demand on services from the high influx of refugees and IDPs.
- The provision of jerry cans reduced the frequency of water collection and the risks of GBV that go with it
- Increased reach of the Government of Niger’s cold chain supply for an estimated additional population of 8,000 IDPs and refugees who have settled in the health facility catchment area.
- The GOAL programme is an example of one that is designed to meet the basic needs of those that have been displaced by conflict, focussing on the most vulnerable. Women’s reproductive health needs are particularly acute in this region right now and the intervention is targeted to support government efforts to meet these needs.
Falmata is a 34-year old mother, originally from Northern Nigeria. Last year the conflict forced her and her daughter to flee from their home village of Chétimari town on North East Nigeria, finding refuge in the small village of Koublé, in the Diffa region of Niger.
Her daughter recalled how one day, she came home from working on the farm to find houses in the village burnt down by Boko Haram. Although their house still stood, Falmata did not feel safe to stay. She also had no information on the whereabouts of her husband. She looked around her home thinking about what she could take, as she could take only what she could carry. After some time, she got news that her husband had been killed by members of Boko Haram. The family now live in a small makeshift house in Koublé, and survive on less than 1 USD a day and help from the humanitarian actors. The kit that she received contains basic items that are essential for her and her family.