Information and news about nigeria

Nigerian Women's Health
In a 2021 Brookings Institution report, Dr. Damaris Parsitau proposed that African women and girls remain at the forefront of recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic. In explaining why, the Kenyan professor of religion demonstrated that African females bear the brunt of the pandemic’s disasters, making up more than 60% of Africa’s health care workforce and essential services workforce. According to the report, this disproportionately high percentage of females reaches just more than 90% in some countries, such as Egypt. Women in African countries face not only an increased risk of death from COVID-19 but also poor working conditions, low pay and lack of voice due to androcentric leadership. The conditions that African women experienced during the pandemic raise questions surrounding African women’s health more broadly. Here is some information about how the Health Aid for All Initiative (HAFAI) is promoting women’s health at a holistic level for Nigerian women.

About the Health Aid for All Initiative

Health Aid for All promotes Nigerian women’s health in two different ways: by promoting women’s education concerning menstrual health and working to reduce maternal and infant mortality via disease control, immunization against common childhood diseases and population management. Dr. Ugochi Ohajuruka founded Health Aid for All on Valentine’s Day 2006. Today, she runs the executive operations of the nonprofit as its CEO.

About Dr. Ugochi Ohajuruka

Dr. Ohajuruka holds a B.Sc in Microbiology from the University of Ibadan; Ibadan claims its status since it is the capital of Oyo State in southwestern Nigeria. She also holds a bachelor of medicine (MBBS) and a master’s in public health from the University of Liverpool in northwestern England. In the English educational system, a bachelor of medicine is equivalent to the MD doctoral designation in the United States. To further qualify Ohajuruka’s expertise, she also took a course on international women’s health and human rights from Stanford University and studied leadership and management in health at the University of Washington in the United States.

The Origins of Health Aid for All

The Health Aid for All Initiative began in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, and was fully registered as a nonprofit via the Integrated Tax Office of the Federal Inland Revenue Service on June 12, 2015. The organization also holds an office in the Bronx, New York.

Ohajuruka founded HAFAI to address the cognitive, interpersonal and structural problems that girls’ menstruation raises in Nigeria. Nigerian girls suffer from misconceptions concerning menstruation and have little bodily freedom during their menstrual cycles. In addition, the lack of proper menstrual products means that girls miss school for long periods of time, which affects the quality of life for the country as a whole. There is also an environmental impact, as the pads used (up to 11,000 in one lifetime) are not biodegradable or environmentally friendly.

Nigeria suffers a lack of proper waste management resources. These concerns motivated Ohajuruka to found the organization. According to a story from Laureate, a nonprofit organization using education to promote changed lives, Ohajuruka was working on her dissertation to complete her online MPH. While working at her local health center one day, she saw a teenage girl rushed inside the emergency room having suffered a pelvic infection that managing her cycle with feathers and other unsafe products caused. This was enough for the medical doctor to start the organization.

The Mission of Health Aid for All Initiative

HAFAI addresses women’s health holistically, targeting such important issues as maternal and child health, menstrual hygiene management and adolescent health. Concerning maternal and infant health, Nigeria is the second-largest contributor to the under-5 and maternal mortality rate in the world; daily, the West African country loses about 2,300 children 5 years old and under and 145 women of childbearing age. To combat this, Health Aid for All provides educational opportunities on safe motherhood and the reduction of infant mortality rates.

Menstrual hygiene management is an important focus of HAFAI. HAFAI provides Nigerian girls information on menstruation to counter the misconceptions that religious and cultural influences promote. In addition, the nonprofit has produced an affordable, sustainable, washable and reusable sanitary towel for young women that lasts up to three years. As of date, HAFAI has distributed more than 22,400 reusable pads and has enabled 650 women to start a pad-making business and thus earn a living. Abuja has seen a nearly 67% decrease in school absenteeism from 24% to 8%.

HAFAI has also shared success stories of individuals it has helped through its initiatives; readers can share the link to this webpage through their social media pages. The organization also has a blog by which readers can learn more about menstrual hygiene and other women’s health issues. Readers can also share links on social media to increase awareness.

The Health Aid for All Initiative has seen marked success in promoting Nigerian women’s health, which improves their quality of life, especially in education. This in turn provides hope for the reduction of poverty in the country as increased education causes fewer children to be born into poverty.

– Ozichukwu Ojukwu
Photo: Flickr

Education In Nigeria
Education can act as a golden ticket out of poverty for younger generations in Nigeria. Thus, its absence only hinders a fruitful future for Nigerians all around the country. By fighting for better education in Nigeria, Co-Creation Hub is ensuring that Nigerian students have a reliable pathway to pursue their ambitions and goals.

Nigeria’s Absence of Education

Completing the early steps of education is vital to securing basic knowledge of the language and how the world functions. However, an appalling one in three Nigerian children do not complete primary school and 27.2% of children between the ages of 6 to 11 do not attend school at all.

The intrinsic benefits of early education—learning basic life skills, developing a work ethic and establishing connections with teachers and the community—are thus absent during the most moldable years in the lives of Nigerian youth.

Furthermore, 25.8% of children between the age of 12 to 17 have zero access to an education facility of any kind. The teen years are crucial for identity building and socializing. Grade school is an amazing opportunity to tap into these two fundamental aspects of life. The percentage of Nigerian teens who miss out on these opportunities is too high for the 21st century.

COVID-19’s Impact on Education in Nigeria

After the pandemic hit, school closures have affected 73.8% of the world’s school population. Prior to the pandemic, an estimated total of 10.2 million Nigerian children was out of school. That number has only increased after the start of the pandemic.

Remote education in Nigeria is only available to financially privileged students. Rural children are becoming increasingly disconnected from modern-day teaching. The pupil-teacher ratio in Nigeria was 37.55 in 2010.

What is Co-Creation Hub and How Does it Help?

Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) is Nigeria’s first multi-purpose, open-living lab space provider designed to catalyze creativity and STEM-based work. Within the Co-Creation Hub’s laboratories, staff provides accessible and effective education in STEM subjects to Nigerian kids, adolescents and teens.

Bosum Tijani founded CcHUB in 2010 to innovate Nigeria’s education. The rest of its five areas of focus are digital security, startup funding, design for health and innovation support. The Hub’s four education-oriented programs in Nigeria educated more than 11,000 students in 200 schools. One of the programs has also helped 5,000 internet users who relied on remote settings because of COVID-19.

CcHUB trains new and willing teachers in a teaching technique known as inquiry-based learning. This technique actively places the students at the center of their learning, thus fostering critical thinking, cooperation and a genuine desire to learn.

This organization also offers its computer labs as free and safe learning spaces open to any student in Nigeria. These learning spaces provide STEM education via game-based, online computer lessons purposefully engineered to spark an interest in the sciences. CcHUB has received funding from Microsoft, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Facebook, BBC and VISA among several others.

Facebook has collaborated with one of CcHUB’s educational programs called Safe Online with Facebook. This campaign has reached out to students of all ages in 10 different Nigerian cities to teach vital internet browsing safety skills.

The growing trend of incorporating the internet into education has benefited dozens of countries worldwide. Online learning is now opening up a slew of possibilities for young Nigerians. The drastic digital changes in education in Nigeria are keeping the country in the loop of the newest online era of schooling.

– Fidelia Gavrilenko
Photo: Flickr

End Time Worldwide Missions
For the past 10 years, Nigeria-native and missionary Abraham Sunday has used his empathy and deep understanding of poverty to help reduce poverty in Nigeria. He has since extended his work to helping people around the continent. Four years ago, he founded End Time Worldwide Missions to spread Christianity. However, he realized the urgency of first meeting basic needs. “You cannot preach to a hungry person,” Sunday said in an interview with The Borgen Project. As a result, he and his team focus on providing things like food, water and shelter for the people they serve. “I know what it means to be poor. I know what it means to be hungry. I know what it means to be homeless,” he said.

How it Started

Growing up in Nigeria, which is a country with a lot of poverty, Sunday had to drop out of secondary school. The way he grew up allows him to understand precisely what it means to live with nothing. He recalled a time when he turned to his mother and asked, “Why is there no one we can go to for help?” Then, she told him that he needed to be that help for other people.

Coupled with the profound poverty around him, the wisdom and encouragement from his mother are largely why he does what he does. Now, he offers the kind of help he desperately needed when he was younger.

Where End Time Worldwide Missions Works

End Time Worldwide Missions began its services in Nigeria. Within the immediate poverty around him, Sunday found an opportunity to do good and help reduce poverty in Nigeria. All of it began with small acts of kindness. For instance, when women came to his door hungry, he fed them. He recalls some widows in his community having nothing. After he gave them what was equivalent to $5, they fell to the ground and wept.

What might seem “small” in the United States is profound in a place like Nigeria, where 40% of the population lives on less than $381.75 each year. While $5 might not seem like much to a U.S. citizen, it can be everything to an impoverished person in Nigeria, or anywhere else in the world, for that matter.

Sunday bought books and taught himself mathematics and science. For years, he has taught at a local school despite not having a degree. When he goes on missions, he spreads knowledge to the children and adults he serves. Now that his organization has grown to about 30 individuals worldwide, Sunday is expanding his horizons. Because of the lack of access to health care in Africa, he wants to study medicine at a U.S. or Canadian university to reduce this issue. This way, he can additionally provide health care to the people in his own community and on missions.

The Organization’s Most Impactful Mission

Nigeria’s neighbor to the left, Benin, is a constitutional presidential republic with a population of 11.8 million people. It relies heavily on trade with Nigeria, which makes up 20% of its GDP. When borders temporarily closed in 2019, Benin’s economy suffered a major blow, likely reversing previous economic success. Poverty remains widespread, with a life expectancy of around 61.2 years old.

In February 2020, End Time Worldwide Missions went into Benin and completed what Sunday feels is its most impactful mission to date. When it got to the destination village, it realized that most of the children did not wear clothes and went around barefoot. Thanks to a U.S. partner that sent used clothes, the Mission distributed more than 1,000 pieces of clothing there. It was also able to provide people with food. Sunday and his organization works to uplift other Africans from poverty and spread the gospel.

Nigerian Poverty and COVID-19

A major factor in Nigeria’s poverty is the nation’s reliance on oil, which accounts for 80% of its exports and half of all government revenue. Consequently, when oil prices dropped during COVID-19, the country experienced the deepest recession it’s seen in decades.

Sunday describes the awful experience of living in Nigeria during the worst of COVID-19. The government enforced a lockdown, but many people staying home did not have food. During this time, Sunday did all he could to help neighbors and community members find a way to cope. Though he planned to go on a mission to Ghana, lockdown prevented that from happening. Still, he did what he could in Nigeria, helping his community in a continued effort to uplift other Africans from poverty.

An Inspiring Example

Sunday and his organization seek to help others, even if they have little to give. His profound empathy after having lived in poverty as a child mobilized him to help those suffering.

Abraham Sunday’s work is bringing the world a little bit closer to equity and prosperity. World powers like the United States also have this power vested in them, at a larger but equally significant scale. All acts of goodness are equally significant. If nothing else, Sunday emphasizes that “I want people to see the good in people. You have to learn to see the good.”

– Cameryn Cass
Photo: Flickr

Diseases in Nigeria
Nigeria ranked 142 out of 195 countries in a 2018 global health access study. However, although Nigeria has a challenging health care system, the country has improved the infrastructure that has helped it fight diseases such as polio, measles and Ebola. Nigeria now has centralized offices called Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) that serve as a base for government health workers and aid agencies to coordinate immunization programs and collect data. While there is progress, many diseases still plague Nigeria.

Cholera

Cholera is a water-borne disease that results in a quick onset of diarrhea and other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and weakness. It is one of the many diseases impacting Nigeria in 2021. If people with cholera do not receive treatment, the disease may kill them due to dehydration. A simple oral rehydration solution (ORS) can help most infected people replace electrolytes and fluids. The ORS is available as a powder to mix into hot or cold water. However, without rehydration treatment, about half of those infected with cholera will die, but if treated, the number of deaths decreases to less than 1%.

In August 2021, Nigeria began to see a rise in cholera cases, especially in the north, where the country’s health care systems are the least prepared. The state epidemiologist and deputy director of public health for Kano State, Dr. Bashir Lawan Muhammad, said the rise in cases is due to the rainy season. It is also because authorities have been dealing with Islamist militants in the north. In Nigeria, 22 of the 36 states have suspected cholera cases, which can kill in hours if untreated. According to the Nigeria Center for Disease Control, 186 people from Kano have died of cholera since March 2021, making up most of the country’s 653 deaths.

Malaria

Malaria is another one of the diseases affecting Nigeria. Through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitos, parasites cause malaria and transmit it to humans. Globally, there were 229 million malaria cases in 2019, with 409,000 deaths. Children under the age of 5 years old are the most susceptible group, and in 2019, they accounted for 274,000 or 67% of worldwide malaria deaths. That same year, 94% of malaria cases and deaths occurred in the WHO African Region. Although the disease is preventable and curable, the most prevalent malaria-carrying parasite in Africa, P. Falciparum, can lead to severe illness and death within 24 hours.

The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), which USAID and the CDC lead, works with other organizations to help more than 41 million Nigerians. Despite the difficulties that COVID-19 presented in 2020, the PMI was able to assist Nigeria to distribute 14.7 million treatment doses for malaria, 8.2 million of which went to pregnant women and children. Besides that, the “PMI also distributed 7.1 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs), provided 7.2 million rapid test kits, and trained 9,300 health workers to diagnose and treat patients” of malaria. Before the PMI, only 23% of Nigerian households had bed nets, but since 2010, that number has risen to 43%. The PMI also aims to improve health systems and the skill of health workers to administer malaria-related services.

HIV

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) attacks the immune system, leading to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). One can control the virus with proper medical care, but there is no cure. The disease is prevalent in Africa because it originated in chimpanzees in Central Africa. The virus likely spread to humans when the animals’ infected blood came into contact with hunters. Over the years, HIV spread across Africa and other parts of the world, becoming one of the diseases impacting Nigeria today.

The CDC works with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and other organizations to create and sustain HIV response programs in Nigeria. The CDC’s “data-driven approach” and prevention strategies and treatment strengthen the collaborative system in Nigeria. These include HIV treatment, HIV testing, counseling, services to help prevent mother-to-child transmissions and integrated tuberculosis (TB) and HIV services. TB is the leading cause of death among people living with HIV.

From October 2019 to September 2020, nearly 200,000 Nigerians tested positive for HIV and began treatment. During the same period, over 1 million HIV-positive people tested for TB. More than 5,000 of those individuals tested positive and began treatment for TB. By the end of September 2020, nearly 25,000 orphans and other vulnerable children received HIV/TB services through the CDC. Not only that, but all facilities in Nigeria that the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) supports now use TB BASICS, which is a program that “prevents healthcare-associated TB infection.”

In 2021, Nigeria will face many diseases. On the other hand, great strides are occurring to educate the Nigerian population on diseases like HIV, malaria and cholera. Despite efforts, there is still much more necessary work to reduce illness in Nigeria.

– Trystin Baker
Photo: Flickr

Open Defecation in Nigeria
In 2000, the number of people worldwide who practiced open defecation was around 1.3 billion, and in the span of 17 years, the number went down to 670 million people. This was nearly a 50% decrease, according to World Bank. However, the number of people still defecating in the open remains high and the problem needs addressing, which is why countries, such as Nigeria, are tackling the issue head-on. Here is some information about how some are attempting to eliminate open defecation in Nigeria.

About Open Defecation

Open defecation involves a person “passing excreta in open-air locations instead of in hygienic, covered locations,” and can be detrimental to populations due to its potential to cause health problems. The countries with higher rates of open defecation have the highest numbers of malnutrition, poverty and deaths of children 5 years or younger. Open defecation can harm and negatively affect the health of countries’ populations through the contamination of drinking water and the spread of contagious diseases such as cholera, diarrhea and dysentery. Children become most vulnerable to such diseases, and with the elimination of open defecation, the number of premature deaths will also decrease, according to an article from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Nigeria’s Challenge with Open Defecation

An estimated 50 million Nigerians still defecate in the open. Despite its population of about 200 million people, it surpasses India’s numbers, whose population is 1.3 billion people, meaning that the proportion of Nigerians openly defecating is much larger than that of India. Though linked with poverty and poor sanitary facilities, the practice also happens in tertiary institutions as well as in rural areas. Not even one-third of Nigeria has access to basic sanitation, and the numbers have only grown since 2015. With these numbers come the consequences. Poor sanitation, poor education, premature deaths and economic loss affect the country as well.

Solutions for Open Defecation in Nigeria

Despite the high statistics regarding open defecation in Nigeria, the country is attempting to tackle the problem. Nigeria has made progress toward improving sanitation through its “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign. This national campaign aims to completely rid the country of open defecation by 2025 through the encouragement of hygiene behavior in 47 million Nigerians.

Parts of Nigeria, such as the Cross River State, which refers to the Southeastern region, have made progress within the country after becoming the first open defecation-free local government area. Since its introduction in 2019, the campaign has also seen success through the support it received from UNICEF in 2021.

Mission Goals

The goals of the campaign are the following:

  • Political Commitment — Help fund and allocate funds for the campaign in conjunction with political support.
  • Media Support — Gain support from the media to raise awareness of basic hygiene and sanitation.
  • Proper Funding — Increase support for sanitation in underdeveloped areas.
  • Collaboration with Local Groups — Local and civil society organizations join the campaign.
  • Hygiene Awareness Promoted Through Businesses — Work with businesses and corporations to bring awareness through branding and promotion.

With proper support and funding along with collaboration with organizations and media, the “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet” campaign can work toward the shared goal of eliminating open defecation in Nigeria — and maybe beyond.

– Michelle Sheen
Photo: Flickr

Women's Health in Nigeria
Women’s health is a branch of medicine that focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect women’s physical and emotional wellbeing. The promotion of women’s health greatly improves the quality of life for women and children globally. Unfortunately, women in the West African country of Nigeria experience an especially low quality of life. Luckily, several organizations in Nigeria are targeting an improvement in women’s health.

Women’s Health and Multidimensional Poverty in Nigeria

According to the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI), multidimensional poverty includes poverty in both the economic and social dimensions. It follows that health and wellbeing are significant factors in each of those dimensions. In the 2019 Human Development Report, Nigeria ranked 161 out of 189 countries. Moreover, Nigerians had an average life expectancy of 54 years.

Nigerian researchers Yetunde Abosede Zaid and Samuel Popoola attribute the low quality of life for rural women in Nigeria to poverty, hunger, diseases, a lack of drinking water and shelter. They also cite low income and access to medical attention and information as factors of poor wellbeing. For example, Zaid and Popoola reference a study that concludes that more rural women could become wage earners and boost their personal wellbeing if they began small businesses selling the produce from their farms. However, lack of access to information about running a small business stops them from doing that. In fact, since most rural women in Nigeria cannot read, they need alternatives to printed materials to get that key information. The following three organizations are working to improve these trends in women’s health in Nigeria.

Centre for Women’s Health and Information

Founded in 2003 in Lagos, the Centre for Women’s Health and Information (CEWHIN) promotes the fundamental rights of Nigerian women and girls. To do this, CEWHIN focuses on research, capacity building and advocacy. 

One of the nonprofit’s initiatives includes the Women’s Development Action Network. This project empowers disadvantaged women by providing them with educational scholarships. This is because better-educated women better understand their reproductive health rights. To date, the project has supported 50 students, including four at the university level. 

Women’s Health Solutions in Nigeria

Next, the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) seeks to improve health outcomes for women, infants and children. Founded in Lagos in 2004 by the philanthropist Toyin Ojora Saraki, the WBFA sponsors several national projects. One of these, MamaCares360, empowers mothers by providing health information and education before, during and after pregnancy. Currently, MamaCares 360 runs in 29 locations in five southwestern Nigerian states, and it has a cumulative daily attendance of over 2,000 women per state with more than 230,000 repeated contacts.  

Women’s Rights and Health Project

Third, the Women’s Rights and Health Project is a nongovernmental nonprofit that promotes reproductive health and rights for women, young people and communities. Founded in 2007, WRAHP applies practical interventions to support community health in southwestern Nigeria. One such intervention promotes the early detection of breast, cervical and prostate cancer for communities in Lagos State. To date, it has helped over 1,300 people obtain screenings. 

Looking Ahead to Improve Women’s Health in Nigeria

Each of these organizations targeting women’s health in Nigeria works a little differently, but each is making progress to improve the health and quality of life for Nigerian women, children and young adults.

– Ozi Ojukwu
Photo: Flickr

Nigeria's Food System
Currently, Nigeria stands as the most populous country in Africa at approximately 200 million. The United Nations (U.N.) projects a short-term baby boom in sub-Saharan Africa. However, as Nigeria’s population increases, it food systems cannot keep up. In fact, 60% of Nigeria’s population lives below the poverty line. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 20% of Nigeria’s population suffers from moderate acute malnutrition, and another 6% experiences severe acute malnutrition. In a country that dedicates 78% of its land to agriculture, how is this possible? Here is information about Nigeria’s food system along with measures to improve the situation.

Nigeria’s Need for Sustainability

Periodic droughts and floods affect rural areas lacking infrastructure. In addition, the northeastern conflict between the Nigerian military and Boko Haram, which began in 2009, significantly impacts Nigeria’s food system. According to the U.N.’s Resolution 2417, hunger perpetuates conflict and vice versa. War and displacement can also interrupt food systems. Unfortunately, Nigeria’s struggle mainly occurs in rural, agricultural areas.

As of July 2021, Nigeria’s conflict displaced 2.9 million people. Medecins Sans Frontieres describes the conflict as a “war without wounded” because many Nigerians suffer malnutrition. The WFP found that 4.4 million Nigerians required food assistance from June to September 2021. Along with aid that international organizations like World Food Programme, Medicins Sans Frontieres and UNICEF are providing, Nigeria is working to develop its food system in other ways.

Nigeria’s Food Systems Summit Dialogues

Nigeria works to support itself by participating in the United Nations’ first Food Systems Summit, which launched in September 2021. The Summit aims to create sustainable food systems adhering to the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In preparation for the Summit, Nigeria began its Food Systems Dialogues in February 2021. Vice President Osinbajo stated that the meetings serve to “effectively articulate feasible pathways to sustainable, resilient, and equitable food systems for Nigeria.” Nigeria intends to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty within a decade.

The Food Systems Dialogues gathered Nigeria’s Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning; U.N. representatives; bipartisan political representatives and non-governmental organizations. With more than 4,000 participants, the discussions considered issues and goals for improving Nigeria’s food system. Some stakeholders in attendance included rural citizens, women, private businesses and youth groups. The meetings resulted in 50 short and long-term actions drafted in the “National Pathways to Food Systems Transformation.”

Improving Nigeria’s food system involves reforming land tenure systems, developing food systems pathways, investing in alternative power and paving rural roads. Infrastructure development remains key in developing Nigeria’s human capital and reducing poverty. For instance, Nigeria only has 60,000 kilometers of paved roads. Paving roads would increase food accessibility and ensure better agricultural pathways. Moreover, Nigeria also intends to provide opportunities for youth and women. More than half of Nigeria’s population is between 15 and 64 years old. Investing in youth and women would benefit future agricultural workers and impact population growth.

Looking Ahead in Nigeria

Fulfilling the actions that the Food Systems Dialogues have laid out would greatly benefit Nigeria. Without change, Nigeria will continue to struggle to feed its population. Revamping Nigeria’s food system would curb population growth and help to bring 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030. Further participation in the United Nations’ Food Systems Summit will enable Nigeria to adopt agricultural methods from other member states. Nigeria’s pre-summit efforts prove its willingness to pursue a sustainable food system.

– Dana Gil
Photo: Flickr


One cannot peg conflict in Africa to a sole cause. In fact, a multitude of causes has paved the way for the world to form a generalized opinion of the continent as an area that is inherently dangerous and violent, a faulty but dangerous conclusion that gives cause not to tackle an issue that the nature of the continent itself causes. Although conflict is an inevitable course of human interaction and an undiplomatic resolution to conflicting interests anywhere, such as in Africa, Mexico, Peru and Guatemala, it is unlikely to bring stability to Africa.

Causes of Conflict

Incompetent leadership, corruption, poverty and colonial influence each have their role in the conflict that reverberates across the African continent. European powers’ 19th-century colonialization saw the arbitrary boundary setting that split ethnic groups and placed rival ethnicities within proximity of each other. The Akan-speaking people lived in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. Embezzled funds by leaders play a significant hand in the conflict in Africa by petrifying efforts towards political integration and socioeconomic stability, compelling enough of an issue that the Second Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union adopted the “Africa Convention on Preventing and Combatting Corruption” in 2003. Weakness, corruption and lack of sufficient patriotism characterize leadership in much of Africa, resulting in civil wars in African countries such as, but not limited to, Sudan, Algeria and Liberia.

Poverty’s Role in Conflict

Desertification in Africa speaks of its harsh environment and plays no small role in poverty and has caused notable famines in countries like Ethiopia and Mali, bringing the number of people living in extreme poverty up from 217 million to more than 300 million people between the years of 1987 and 1998. Poverty is a cause of conflict. Conflict in Africa, and anywhere, stalls socioeconomic development and ensures that poverty statistics improve only marginally if at all. Conflict brings down the physical infrastructure of an affected area and likewise destroys the social fabric that takes its forms in loyalty, patriotism and mutual relations. The world has seen time and time again the fruitful reconstruction of an area that war plagued, with the condition that those reconstructing come to a common aim. These conflicts also raise unemployment levels due to a lack of education and economic empowerment.

The Challenges of the Fertility Rate in Africa

A total fertility rate of 4.8 births per woman complicates poverty reduction efforts by complicating a demographic shift that can lead to fewer youths, which means more investment per youth for the development and fulfillment of economic potential. It also offsets poverty reduction progress by increasing the number of people being born into poverty. For example, extreme poverty decreased considerably between 1990 and 2015 inclusive, yet the number of poor people increased to 413 million people from 278 million people.

Solutions to Conflict in Africa

Finding solutions to conflict in Africa is pressing, but poverty eradication and better leadership should be a part of them. A common denominator in developed countries and fueling conflict in Africa is economic and political inclusivity, something lost on developing countries that tend to rule more authoritatively, benefitting those near them at the expense of the rest. Donald Duke, who was a former governor of Cross River State in Nigeria likened the leadership dynamic in Nigeria to that of a pilot who flies a plane but has never been to pilot school. Duke stated that “when the plane crashes, everyone blames the pilot.” Duke also remarked that the question is where are Africa’s leadership “flying schools?”

The disconnect between leaders and the populace is an additional factor, and the age is a subfactor with most African leaders being 55 years of age at minimum, prompting calls for youth inclusion, championed by programs such as the United Nations Population Fund Global Youth Advisory Panel and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, although this only scratches the surface when speaking about total youth involvement.

Youth leadership would benefit Africa greatly, which would require courage on the end of the youth, and understanding and support from older leaders. Youth-led movements such as Y’en a Marre and Balai Citoyen in Senegal and Burkina Faso respectively speak of the youth capacity to instate programs and policy, even at ground level.

– Mohamed Makalou
Photo: Flickr

Disability and Poverty in Nigeria
Disability and poverty in Nigeria have a complex relationship. Socioeconomic and structural factors both play a role in understanding the relationship between disability and poverty in the country.

About Disability and Poverty in Nigeria

Nine out of 10 people with disabilities in Nigeria live below the poverty line of $1.90 a day. In addition, employment options are limited in Nigeria, making it difficult for people with disabilities to emerge from poverty. Fortunately, the Inclusion Works initiative works to improve inclusive employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Nigeria. With funding from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office of the United Kingdom, the program began in 2018. The program’s deliverables include partnerships with private, public and civil society to influence the inclusion of women and men with disabilities in formal employment.

Disability inclusion also plays an important role in addressing the relationship between disability and poverty. The World Bank has reported that people with disabilities in Nigeria consistently face “stigma, discrimination and barriers to accessing social services and economic opportunities.”

About the Correlation of Disability and Poverty

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a disability is any condition of the body or mind that makes it more difficult for the person with the condition to participate in certain activities and interact with the world around them. In a critical review that the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development funded, Dr. Nora Groce found that education was a key factor “in determining poverty during adulthood for people with disabilities.” According to one of the studies that the review cited, multidimensional poverty is a reason why children with disabilities frequently do not attend school.

The World Bank states that 1 billion people or 15% of the world population experiences some form of disability. The World Health Organization (WHO) also reports that disability is most prevalent in lower-income countries and that disability and poverty correlate and affect each other.

According to a study that the Journal of Disability Policy Studies published, people have increasingly recognized those with disabilities as a high-risk population for multidimensional poverty. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) characterizes multidimensional poverty as deprivation across the domains of health, education and living standards.

Most Common Disabilities in Nigeria

The interactions between disability and poverty in Nigeria are manifold. However, grassroots and governmental efforts are promoting the goal of poverty alleviation at the national level. The 2020 Situational Analysis provides two different estimates of disability prevalence: either 25 million people or 3.3 million people. However, according to a report from the African Disability Rights Yearbook, the five most prevalent disabilities include visual impairment, hearing impairment, intellectual impairment, physical impairment and communication impairment.

Policy Steps Addressing Disability and Poverty in Nigeria

Policies are alleviating the challenges of Nigerians with disabilities. At the grassroots level, several nonprofits exist to improve quality of life, including the Centre for Citizens with Disabilities and the Disability Rights Advocacy Center. Both organizations reside in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria. They ensure the representation of disability as a human rights and policy issue.

The Centre for Citizens with Disabilities promotes the inclusion, participation and access of people with disabilities in both governmental and non-governmental institutions. Founded in 2002 by David Anyaele, the nonprofit is working towards its mission by funding practical research, disability and human rights education, legal aid and peer support.

The Disability Rights Advocacy Center protects the human rights of people and women with disabilities. It achieves its mission through various implementation projects, including the GIRLS Project and Policy to Practice. The former project promotes disability inclusion for girls with disabilities, linking disability concerns with gender-based and sexual violence. Some of the projects’ accomplishments include a commitment from the media to improve coverage of disability issues. In addition, the project has successfully trained women and girls with disabilities to advocate for improved and inclusive sexual and gender-based violence services.

Policy to Practice and Government Efforts

Policy to Practice ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to justice for human rights complaints. Funded by the European Union, its successes include improved knowledge and skills for disability-inclusive service delivery in sexual and gender-based violence and justice actors. Women and girls with disabilities also have improved knowledge and capacity to seek justice for rights violations.

At the governmental level, laws passed promote disability inclusion. For example, the 2018 Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities (Prohibition) Act prevents discrimination based on disability. Passed into law in 2019, it also requires a five-year transitional period after which transportation and public buildings must be accessible.

While the relationship between disability and poverty in Nigeria seems intractable, recent indicators at the national level have revealed a more hopeful picture. Hopefully, in time, poverty among those with disabilities in Nigeria will reduce.

– Ozi Ojukwu
Photo: Flickr

Pearls Africa Foundation
Nigerian female programmer Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin’s love for computers led her to a life’s mission to help lift girls out of poverty through science, technology, engineering and math by teaching them how to code. Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded the Pearls Africa Foundation, which provides more than technological skills, giving girls tools to become financially independent.

About Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin

After graduating from the University of Lagos, Ajayi-Akinfolarin founded the Pearls Africa Foundation in 2012, leaving her job to dedicate all her time to the Foundation. a statistic indicating that less than 8% of Nigerian women had professional, managerial or technological jobs, a staggeringly low number, drove her to establish the Foundation. She wanted to give women and girls the opportunity to acquire the skills to change that statistic and lift themselves out of poverty. In 2018, she earned the title of CNN Hero of the Year in acknowledgment of her efforts.

The Girls and Women of Makoko

Lagos, Nigeria, has a thriving economy of oil, finance and manufacturing, however, the world’s largest “floating slum,” Makoko, is on a lagoon in the city within which 250,000 people live. The slum city rests on stilts and its residents use canoes for transport. Gentrification led to the displacement of some members of the slum community until many deemed it unconstitutional. Most people in Makoko, including women and girls, do not have access to regular food, water, electricity or education. Drawing inspiration from the aim of helping the girls of Makoko, Ajayi-Akinfolarin began the Pearls Africa Foundation.

Pearls Africa Foundation Programs

The Pearls Africa Foundation has 10 different programs to help girls learn to code, keep them safe and secure and prepare them for educational and career-oriented opportunities. The flagship program of the Pearls Africa Foundation is Girls Coding, which provides underserved girls with an education in computer programming and coding, including courses such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and Python. This training prepares the girls to compete for STEM jobs and achieve financial independence.

Similar programs are Lady Labs, which teaches basic IT and technology skills and provides IT experience. Empowered Hands provides vocational training such as bead-making, fashion designing, hair styling, Aso-oke weaving and more. Pearls Africa actively searches for internship placements for its students and provides scholarship opportunities through its EducateHer program.

Its mentoring activity, Safe Space, gives girls a place to cope with and address psychological trauma from their daily environments. Mentors answer questions and guide young girls in areas such as sexual health and dealing with abuse as well as cultural practices. This allows girls to understand and address their mental health issues, heal from the impacts of abuse, receive career guidance and more. Safe Space holds workshops every month to help girls build life skills and become successful in their careers.

The Foundation also has three different outreach programs: Community Outreach, Medical Outreach and School Outreach. Respectively, these efforts involve a feeding program and donations, providing free healthcare assistance in Lagos and mentoring girls in secondary schools.

Each of the programs of the Pearls Africa Foundation provides young girls in Nigeria with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty and lead successful, fulfilling lives.

– Sana Mamtaney
Photo: Wikimedia Commons