Three hundred Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) empowered with agricultural inputs in Kuje and Durumi camps by the National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTs) say the support has improved their livelihoods.
They said this on Friday in Abuja when the Spanish Cooperation Agency in Madrid, led by its Director, Mr Anton Leis visited NANTS office.
It would be recalled that in 2019, NANTS in collaboration with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) under the Regional Agency for Agriculture and Food (RAAF) embarked on an empowerment programme.
The programme, which is with the support of the Spanish International Development Agency (AECID), is aimed at providing succour to IDPs in Abuja.
Representatives of the beneficiaries said that the project had built their capacity for improved productivity in selected crops such as maize and groundnut.
Mr Chiroma Isaiah, the Chairman, IDPs camp Kuje, said that they were traditional farmers before they were displaced from their communities.
Isaiah said that the project, however, rekindled their hope by fostering access to agricultural tools, thereby, improving the livelihoods of the IDPs.
“By the time I came to Abuja, I had nothing but this programme has facilitated the return of my eight children to school.
“Currently, three of them have finished secondary school while one has graduated from the college of education.
“Now I have built my house and I have bought land and through this project many of us have motorcycles they use for commercial purposes,’’ he said.
Malam Umar Gola from IDPs Durumi commended NANTs, ECOWAS and SIDA for the support.
Gola who lost his wife and two children to insurgency, said that the project helped his capacity beyond what he originally knew of farming by providing training on improved technology that resulted in improved productivity.
“Now, I have about two tonnes of beans I kept. This project has impacted so much on us and has expanded to other commercial activities apart from farming,’’ Gola said.
He, however, expressed concern that they were still faced with the challenge of herders’ attack on their farms.
Similarly, Mrs Rufkatu Peter, said that the project promoted her gradual exit from IDPs status.
Peter described the project as a landmark approach toward ensuring that food security was taken to the next level in terms of sustainability.
Earlier, the National President of NANTs, Mr Ken Ukoha said research showed that 90 per cent of people in IDPs camps were traditionally farmers before they were displaced from their communities.
Ukoha said that the project had enhanced food and nutrition security mechanisms for IDPs and host community households through agronomic training and agriculture extension service.
“We developed farms and took them there where we trained them agronomically and 300 households regained their livelihoods.
“We also have 1,800 tons of maize that we have produced and we also have about 1,000 tons of groundnuts then we have some lessons that we learnt.
“We procured farms where we did demonstrations for them to learn.
“They were originally farmers before they were displaced so we needed to buy everything they needed to start life so as to move them from the roads where they were begging.
“So, we bought hoes, machetes, fertilisers, groundnut seeds and maize seeds; we bought all that they needed including the sprayer,’’ he said.
Ukoha, however, solicited continued support for the project to capture more IDPs.
According to him, records show that there are 6,348 IDPs in Abuja and this project captured 300 IDPs.
The Spanish director, Leis said that Spain would continue to strengthen its cooperation with Nigeria.
According to him, this will enable us to finance and support more projects such as this one.
“Thank you to everyone involved for making a difference to the project as we have seen and we have the opportunity today to hear from the beneficiaries,’’ he said.
While recalling some challenges facing the world in the last four years, Leis urged the beneficiaries not to lose hope.
According to him, Nigeria is a country of hope.