Youth in Borno – Nigeria’s worst affected northeastern state – have had their livelihoods uprooted due to a decade-long crisis. In response to the overwhelming recovery needs of livestock-based households in the State, FAO is collaborating with the European Union to reestablish livelihoods in the sector. On 13 February, UN Organization distributed 150 bulls to youth in Jere and Konduga local government areas (LGAs) of Borno State as part of a plan to provide 1 600 youths with bulls between 2018 and 2019.
Under a European Union financed-project lasting from 2018 to 2020, FAO will reach about 100 000 households in Borno, including farmers, animal owners and fishers for livestock restocking, crop seed distributions and agricultural training. To boost livestock production, nearly 10 000 households in the State are targeted for other livestock distributions including goat and poultry. Prior to deliveries, all livestock are quarantined and vaccinated, ensuring a safe introduction to the communities.
“The productivity of northeastern Nigerian youth can be unlocked with strategic and complementary support, including animal restocking for depleted herds, access to startup capital, markets and training in livestock production”, said Nourou Macki Tall, Deputy FAO Representative in Nigeria. Tall spoke at Wednesday’s bull distribution held in Auno, a bustling village about 30 minutes outside the state capital, Maiduguri. With bulls and other livestock provisions, Tall stressed, youths will have an alternative source of much needed income. “If young people have a productive livelihood in agriculture and can meet their daily needs, they are far less likely to become hypnotized by insurgent groups”, said Tall.
Salisu Nara, a 25-year-old father of two from Zabarmari in Jere LGA, was overjoyed as he held tightly to a rust coloured bull at Wednesday’s distribution. “Words can’t express how I feel, I am really excited for this bull, it will take me out of poverty”, said Nara. “I will fatten him (the bull) and when he is big enough I will sell him for NGN 250 000 naira (USD 700). With the money I will buy a smaller bull and invest in irrigated farming”. Recipients of Wednesday’s bull distributions are enrolled in a FAO-led training on best practices in animal husbandry, enabling them to manage their herds.
The project is jointly implemented by FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment (UN Women). To complement the distribution, Nara and other youths will receive cash transfers from WFP. Cash transfers, when combined with animal restocking, have been proven to lower the risk of households selling animals to meet urgent needs. UN Women will train youths and other groups in areas related to business management and gender equality.
The EU-funded project to restore livelihoods in Borno will also engage with local and traditional leaders to promote greater youth access to land and business opportunities.
- In northeastern Nigeria, livestock production is a fundamental component of agriculture-based livelihoods. In addition to being a source of meat, milk, eggs, hides and incomes, livestock like oxen provide essential services during land preparation for farming and transport for rural households across the country.
- Borno State is home to an estimated 11.7 million animals, the largest by any state in the country. Smallholder pastoralists, significant numbers of whom are nomadic, own the majority of these animals.
- A decade-long conflict in the North East has led to a nosedive in livestock production. Many pastoralists have abandoned their homes and farms in search of safety. Declines in productivity have also created high levels of food insecurity and deteriorating nutritional conditions.
- If no humanitarian support is extended, 2.7 million people will be food insecure in the lean season lasting from June to August 2019, according to the Cadre Harmonisé projections shared in November 2018.
- In recent months, about 2.2 million formerly displaced people have returned to their communities of origin, mainly in Borno. These households require urgent livelihood support to survive. Livestock sector support, particularly in the areas of production and processing will lead to greater economic opportunities for low-income households and provide a route to recovery.