Information and news about nigeria

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

About Poverty in NigeriaThe wealthiest and most populous African country, Nigeria plays a substantial role in global poverty alleviation. Its success or failure has wider implications for the rest of the developing world. The history of Nigeria is a storied one, its chiefdoms and local tribes tracing their origins to the ancient kingdoms of sub-Saharan Africa. But, only in 1914 did Nigeria emerge in its present form under British colonial rule, followed by independence in 1960. Even then, the country suffered from the debilitation of military rule. It was not until the turn of the century that Nigeria blossomed as a full and free democracy.

Most recently, COVID-19 has dented the economy as global supply chains were sent into prolonged shock. But, a young Nigerian population meant that the human impact was minimized to a greater extent than in some Western countries. Furthermore, Nigeria is also expected to register positive economic growth in 2021. By 2100, Nigeria is slated to have the second-largest population in the world, surpassing China and trailing India. . Understanding the complexities of poverty in this highly crucial corner of the globe grows more imperative by the day.

5 Facts About Poverty in Nigeria

  1. Poverty in Nigeria is widespread. To date, around 40% of Nigerians live in poverty. The economy is dependent on oil, creating inherent vulnerabilities for supply chain disruptions. Depending on the stability of the wider world, millions of additional Nigerians could fall into poverty within a relatively short span of time.
  2. Inequality is similarly high. By the common method of international measurement, Nigeria actually has less inequality than the United States. But, this overshadows the vast challenges facing the country. Unemployment is high at 33%. Women are disproportionately impacted because of gender inequality and discrimination. Nigerian women own less property than men and a significant contingent of the female population is illiterate.
  3. The wealth gap has created the political conditions for terrorism to flourish. Boko Haram, one of the leading terrorist groups in the world, has headquartered itself on the outskirts of Nigeria. The organization is responsible for tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions.
  4. Progress is possible. Over the years, life expectancy has risen. In 1960, life expectancy was 37. By 2019, that figure was 55.
  5. Nigeria is also a fast-growing economy. A recession in 2016 led to an economic contraction and the COVID-19 pandemic had a similar effect. But, these are exceptions. The economy otherwise grows quite fast. One example lies in 2014 when the economy expanded by 6.3%.

Doctors Without Borders

Times are changing. Organizations like Doctors Without Borders are taking the lead in tackling some of Nigeria’s biggest challenges. In many countries, poverty and health form a vicious cycle, with one reinforcing the other. Without adequate medical treatments, millions fall victim to poverty and lack the resources to access opportunities. Doctors Without Borders cuts the problem at its source.

Drawing on donations from across the world, the group treats more than 50,000 Nigerians for malaria, a disease mostly eliminated in the Western world but greatly affecting developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa where hundreds of thousands died in 2019 alone. At the same time, Doctors Without Borders has taken a multipronged approach by increasing hospital admission rates, allowing more than 60,000 Nigerians to receive necessary medical treatment in a hospital facility.

These facts paint an optimistic picture of Nigerian development. Increases in life expectancy and strong economic growth can also make substantive impacts on poverty alleviation. In the coming years, better resource allocation on the part of the Nigerian government can allow more flexible responses to the challenges facing the nation.

– Zachary Lee
Photo: Flickr

Local dairy farming in NigeriaNigeria’s dairy industry has many problems. Inefficiency, “lack of technical knowledge” and outdated practices plague local dairy farming in Nigeria. Thus, Nigeria does not meet its potential for establishing a thriving dairy industry. Even though Nigeria has enough cows, in 2020, it still spent $2.5 billion importing milk from multiple countries. Farmers in Nigeria lack access to infrastructure, veterinarians and technologies to improve milk collection. Fortunately, NGOs have begun operations to help local dairy farming in Nigeria meet its potential. Sahel Consulting, an agricultural consultancy firm in Nigeria, has launched the Advancing Local Dairy Development in Nigeria (ALDDN) program to try to reshape dairy farming in Northern Nigeria. With support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, this program focuses on local dairy farming in Nigeria.

An Overview of Nigerian Dairy Farming

Most dairy farmers in Nigeria work on small, pastoral farms. Many of these farms focus on meat, with milk as a byproduct rather than the main focus. Additionally, cows in Nigeria underperform in comparison with cows worldwide. While Nigerian cows produce “less than one liter of milk” per day, cows worldwide produce dozens, with some countries reaching 100 liters of milk per day. While this situation currently hurts local dairy farming in Nigeria, it also provides an opportunity. As a pastoral sector, the economic benefits of increased efficiency can bring these individual farmers out of poverty, lifting their communities up with them.

The Goals of ALDDN

ALDDN is taking a six-pronged approach to improving local dairy farming in Nigeria. The program focuses on farmers’ organizations, rural infrastructure, productivity, promotion of financial inclusion, education and public advocacy. By focusing on productivity improvements, ALDDN looks to increase milk volumes to international levels, increasing farmers’ revenues tenfold. The program also looks to build rural infrastructure to allow these farmers to sell their milk on the market. Much of the program focuses specifically on female dairy farmers who face financial exclusion. ALDDN aims to reach 210,000 beneficiaries, with 120,000 trained in modern dairy farming practices. The program also looks to train 50 veterinarians to help ensure the health of milk cows.

The Impact of ALDDN

ALDDN has already made an impact on Nigerian dairy farming. Arla Foods, a Danish dairy company with operations worldwide, has started constructing a dairy farm in rural Northern Nigeria in partnership with the ALDDN program. The facility aims to help 1,000 local dairy farmers, with space for 400 cows and 25 live-in workers.

Since the project began, much attention has fallen on the Nigerian dairy industry. Government-sponsored studies have recently shown the extent of inefficiencies in local dairy farming in Nigeria. Now, solutions championed by ALDDN have appeared in local magazines, with efforts across the dairy industry to modernize. Some focus on using technology to more efficiently milk cows while others focus on selectively-bred cows to produce more milk.

Efforts From Others

Other NGOs and governments have pitched in to help the Nigerian dairy industry. The United States recently donated pregnant Jersey cows to help boost milk production, hoping that in a few generations, these cows can help provide increased milk production. Additionally, FrieslandCampina WAMCO is working with communities to increase milk production. By introducing cross-breeding, the company saw a hundredfold increase in production in its Oyo milk facility, which is open to smallscale artisan farmers.

With all of the improvements and focus on local dairy farming in Nigeria, the future looks bright for this industry. More efficient cows, better rural infrastructure and better agricultural practices can help lift farming communities out of poverty, giving opportunities to those in rural communities who are commonly left behind.

– Justin Morgan
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 Programs in NigeriaNigeria is Africa’s largest country with a population of more than 200 million people. However, estimates place the number of fully vaccinated at around or less than 1% of the population. This is as the nation faces its third wave of COVID-19 infections. With the help of the U.S. government and COVID-19 programs in Nigeria, the country looks to successfully improve its vaccination rates and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 in Nigeria

Since Nigeria’s first known case of COVID-19 in February 2020, the country has seen a consistent spike in the total number of cases and deaths. A month after Nigeria’s first known case, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari implemented a 14-day lockdown in the country’s three major states: Lagos, Abuja and Ogun. During the lockdown, citizens underwent quarantine, travel to other states was postponed and businesses were temporarily closed.  The country then completed a gradual easing of its initial COVID-19 lockdown in phases. The first phase was initially conducted in the three major states for two weeks from May 4 to 17, but the government issued another two-week extension until June 1.

At this time, the country had a little more than 10,000 COVID-19 cases. The country then went into its second phase of easing regulations. This lasted four weeks from June 2 to June 29, during which Nigeria saw an increase of about 15,000 cases, bringing the total to more than 25,000 cases. After tallying fewer than 90,000 cases by the end of 2020, Nigeria saw a spike in COVID-19 cases in the spring of 2021 as it surpassed 160,000 cases in March.

Furthermore, Nigeria is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 cases. The country recorded its highest daily case total in the last six months when it tallied 790 cases on August 12. However, the Nigerian government is now not considering conducting another lockdown because a lockdown “stifles economic activity.” As of late September, the country has recorded more than 200,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,666 deaths.

Considering Solutions

Despite Nigeria’s low vaccination rates, hope to improve the situation remains. With donations from the U.S. government and COVID-19 programs in Nigeria, the country stands to improve its vaccination rates. In March 2021, COVAX made a significant donation to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. The delivery was the “third and largest COVID-19 vaccine donation to an African country” by the COVAX program. COVAX, which aims to guarantee equal access to COVID-19 vaccines for low-income countries, donated nearly 4 million vaccines to Nigeria.

Recently, on August 2, the United States delivered 4 million Moderna doses to Nigeria. More than a week later, the Nigerian government received 177,600 Johnson & Johnson vaccines from the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT). This donation is the first of 29.8 million vaccines that are being donated by the AVAT.

Looking Ahead

After only administering 3.9 million vaccines, Nigeria is expected to receive more than 40 million vaccines by the end of the year. With vaccine donations from the U.S. government and COVID-19 programs in Nigeria, the country can drastically improve its vaccine rates and work to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

– Kyle Har
Photo: Flickr

Sabee AppNearly 200 million people currently live in Nigeria. Out of all the children in the world who are not attending school, one in five of those children live in Nigeria. The statistics of education in Nigeria paint a bleak picture as only 61% of children aged 6-11 attend primary school on a regular basis. Furthermore, in 2018, only 20% of Nigerian adults who finished primary school were literate. However, Nigeria might be turning the corner in education as many educational tech startups focus on facilitating education in Nigeria. Facebook is the latest company to invest in the development of Nigerian education through the Sabee app.

Education in Nigeria

At the moment, Nigeria’s education system suffers from a severe lack of funding. In 2020, Nigeria dedicated only 6.7% of its annual budget to education even though UNESCO recommends that a government should allocate a minimum of 15% of the annual budget toward education. Therefore, Nigeria allocates far less than is recommended.

Although education is free in Nigeria, Nigerian public schools do not have many teachers. In some regions, the teacher-to-student ratio is an astounding 1:73. The schools also lack the vital resources needed to learn and lack quality and clean facilities. There is also insufficient training for teachers in schools. The government does not have established guidelines for hiring teachers, leaving students with inadequately trained instructors. Unqualified staff means the quality of learning severely decreases.

Lastly, terrorism has impacted the learning ability of Nigerian students. Due to the Boko Haram group terrorizing the northern parts of the country, less than half of female students in Northern Nigeria attend school. Furthermore, the ongoing violence has left many schools damaged and destroyed.

The History of the Sabee App

Sabee is an educational app that “aims to connect learners and teachers in online communities to make educational opportunities more accessible.” Facebook aims to develop Sabee as a part of its long-term investment strategy in Africa. Since most people will live in urbanized areas by 2030, and with Africa’s population rising fast, Facebook wants to establish a market in the African region. The platform particularly focuses on Nigeria. This decision is based on studies that estimate that Nigeria will become the second-most populated country by the turn of the century.

The Nigerian word “sabi,” which means “to know,” is the inspiration behind the app’s name, Sabee. The Sabee app will increase access to educational opportunities and bridge the literacy gap in Nigeria. With COVID-19 still affecting many parts of the world without vaccine access, the Sabee app will help many gain access to education remotely. In addition, the Sabee app seeks to address the poor literacy rates of Nigerian women and girls.

Development and Implementation of Sabee

Currently, more than 100 million Nigerians have access to the internet and more than 95% of internet users utilize mobile broadband data. Additionally, 250,000 new internet users in Nigeria were online by the end of 2019. Facebook aims to ensure Sabee works with 2G networks to make it accessible to more people, even those with less advanced internet connections.

As of now, the app is in the testing phase, “with fewer than 100 testers” assessing the app. Facebook plans to develop the app further based on the testers’ feedback and implement another phase of testing before the close of 2021.

Several technology startups and companies such as Facebook are investing in improving the system of education in Nigeria. However, to make a lasting impact, Nigeria must dedicate more of its resources toward ensuring quality education for all youth.

– Matthew Port Louis
Photo:Flickr

lagos-ibadan railwayThe dilapidated state of Nigeria’s roads, train tracks and other infrastructure has kept 40% of Nigerians under the poverty line as of 2019. In February 2021, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari requested the equivalent of $2.6 billion in funding to address this consistent roadblock, dedicating the majority of the funds to completing a new Lagos-Ibadan Railway. Finished in mid-June 2021, the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway will efficiently connect Nigeria’s largest city with its inland communities. The Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway will aid Nigeria’s impoverished communities by facilitating job creation and increasing national connectivity.

Wealth and Job Creation

The need to create and maintain the railway infrastructure created many jobs for Nigerians. Over its construction period of three years, when builders faced many obstacles that required innovative solutions, the railway provided employment to more than 20,000 Nigerians. Staffing, conducting and maintaining the quality of the Lagos-Ibadan Railway will create an additional 7,000 jobs.

Furthermore, projections determine that the railway will attract many national and foreign investors, especially in Ibadan. Studies by the International Journal of Business and Management Invention and Journal of Economics and Sustainable Development display the large impact of foreign direct investment (FDI) on poverty reduction in Nigeria.

A streamlined connection to Lagos will help Ibadan grow and become more of a trade hub. The resulting increased FDI will supplement domestic savings and expand local technology and managerial skills for the economic development of low-income areas.

Transportation and Connectivity

The railroad will extend the lifespan of existing roads and means of transport. It will also lessen congestion for product transportation, minimize maintenance costs and ultimately aid local producers in sustaining a comfortable lifestyle. In 2018, three million passengers utilized Nigerian trains as regular transportation. About 42,000 people utilized the Lagos-Ibadan Railway in June 2021 alone.

Between Lagos and Ibadan, the railway connects eight cities and their surrounding areas. Connecting rural areas to Nigeria’s industry hubs will help incorporate rural populations into urban markets.  For example, a direct connection to the Apapa port facilitates the transportation of goods from Nigeria’s rural areas. About 70% of Nigeria’s workforce are farmers. Direct connection to a port will improve farm productivity, increase annual GDP and reduce poverty.

Looking Forward

Expanding the country’s railway network by 157 kilometers and increasing city access for millions of citizens is a step forward for poverty reduction in Nigeria. Thanks to this infrastructure update, Nigerians celebrate tens of thousands of new jobs, increased investment and more efficient transportation. The Lagos-Ibadan Railway excites Nigerians who hope to continue the spread of connectivity across the country.

Julia Fadanelli
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Elexiay Clothing BrandAs artisans stitch rows of thread, their fingers pull yarn through loops in patterns passed down across generations. Elexiay, a Lagos-based Nigerian clothing brand, takes pride in its handmade garments crafted by a team of accomplished women crocheters. Supporting a small clothing business like Elexiay allows consumers to back community-based entrepreneurs as opposed to faceless fast fashion corporations. Small businesses have to compete with fast fashion giants, which makes it difficult for these smaller businesses to thrive. Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, supporting small businesses can make a significant impact on the lives of employees. The Elexiay clothing brand empowers Nigerian women and provides jobs to help them rise out of poverty.

The Elexiay Clothing Brand

Elexiay is a brand that redefines crocheted clothing, which is often stereotyped as “grandma’s clothing.” Elexiay’s collection of products is a reinvention of crocheted clothing that keeps up with the latest fashion trends. With crocheted crop tops, skirts and maxi dresses featuring elegant slits, Elexiay displays its grasp of the year’s latest trends.

Elexiay’s signature crocheted designs serve a greater purpose than just style. Elexiay’s founder, Elyon Adede, described to The Zoe Report how vital women’s empowerment is to Elexiay. Accordingly, Elexiay solely employs Nigerian women who handcraft each piece of clothing. Many after-school programs in Nigeria teach the art of crochet. Due to the emphasis on craftsmanship, Elexiays’s employees avoid the hazards associated with factory textile production and can share Nigeria’s art of crochet with the world.

Rising Poverty in Nigeria

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, approximately 40% of Nigerians lived below the poverty line, with millions more at risk of falling into poverty. During the pandemic, international oil prices dropped. This decline severely impacted Nigeria’s economy as more than 60% of Nigeria’s government revenue comes from oil. According to the World Bank, the consequences of the pandemic, coupled with Nigeria’s oil price crisis, could “push around 10 million additional Nigerians into poverty by 2022.”

In this way, Elexiay’s emphasis on fair wages and other ethical labor practices coincides with a time when millions of Nigerians face the risk of poverty. The company’s commitment to the “creation of jobs locally” demonstrates how a small clothing business can help communities in times of economic uncertainty.

Elexiay’s Dispute with Fast Fashion Brand

Despite Elexiay’s success in designing crocheted clothing, the company has faced difficulties. For instance, Elexiay posted a picture on Instagram of one of its pink and green crocheted sweaters side-by-side with a sweater featured on a fast fashion corporation website on July 16, 2021.  The sweater sold by SHEIN, the corporation in question, used a design strikingly similar to the pattern crafted by artisans at Elexiay.

In the Instagram caption, Elexiay described itself as a “small black-owned independent sustainable business” and expressed frustration in seeing “such talent and hard work reduced to a machine-made copy.” The caption also urged SHEIN to remove the sweater from its website.

Since posting the side-by-side comparison of the sweaters, Elexiay’s post received more than 97,000 likes and hundreds of supportive comments. While SHEIN has removed the controversial sweater from its website, this is not the first instance of SHEIN being accused of stealing designs. For example, designer Mariama Diallo accused SHEIN of stealing one of her dress designs for the brand Sincerely Ria in June 2021.

Aside from feeling disheartened after seeing the sweater on SHEIN’s website, the Elexiay clothing brand founder also expressed disappointment in SHEIN’s practices overall. In an interview with Insider, Adede describes the experience as especially difficult because “SHEIN is known for its unethical labor practices, which is the opposite of what I stand for.”

Supporting Small Clothing Businesses

While Nigeria has seen a rise in poverty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, individuals around the world can make deliberate choices that benefit communities in Nigeria. The women employees of Elexiay crochet garments by hand, spending days on each piece to share the art of crochet with the rest of the world and are provided with a job and an income through the process. When making the decision of whether to shop from a large fast fashion corporation or a local business, it is important to question the values that each brand holds.

Madeline Murphy
Photo: Flickr

Financial Inclusivity in africaWith more than half of the world’s registered mobile money accounts in Africa, the market for financial technology startups is steadily increasing on the continent. By streamlining, simplifying and speeding up trade and transfers, digital payment platforms are helping expand access to financial services and avoid high transaction costs typically charged by banks. As smartphone penetration grows in Africa, tech startups are gaining more customers and receiving more funding, enough to reach “unicorn status” — a title that describes a company valued at more than $1 billion, according to venture capitalists and private equity firms. As of 2019, smartphone penetration in South Africa stands at 91%. Due to the rise in smartphone users and broadband, mobile banking in Africa is quickly becoming more prevalent, increasing financial inclusivity in Africa.

3 Tech Startup Unicorns Promoting Mobile Money

  1. Interswitch. Founded in 2002 by Mitchell Elegbe, “Interswitch is a digital payment platform in Nigeria” that reached unicorn status in 2019. The company owns Verve, Nigeria’s most used payment card, and accounts for 18 million out of the 25 million cards in circulation in the country. The tech startup also owns Quickteller, an online payment platform. In October 2020, Quickteller launched the search for a “QTrybe community,” a group of 50 students from tertiary institutions to represent the company on campuses around Nigeria.
  2. Flutterwave. African payment company Flutterwave received its unicorn status in March 2021 after raising $170 million in funding. Established in 2016 “as a Nigerian and U.S.-based payments company,” Flutterwave “helps businesses build customizable payments applications” through application programming interfaces, a software intermediary that allows two applications to “talk” to each other. Despite the pandemic negatively affecting many growing businesses, Flutterwave’s CEO, Olugbenga Agboola, reports that the “company grew more than 100% in revenue within the past year” due to “an increase in activity in COVID-beneficiary sectors.” These are business sectors that have been thriving due to the pandemic, such as “streaming, gaming, e-commerce and remittance.” Flutterwave is present in 20 African countries and has processed more than 140 million transactions valued at more than $9 billion.
  3. Chipper Cash. Founded in 2018 by Ham Serunjogi and Maijid Moujaled, Chipper Cash is a money transfer startup that facilitates cross-border payments across Africa. In 2021, just three years after it was established, the company confirmed that it raised $100 million, taking its valuation to more than $1 billion, therefore, reaching unicorn status. The company “offers mobile-based, no fee,” peer-to-peer payments. Aside from operating in seven African countries, Chipper Cash has now expanded to the United Kingdom, its very first international market outside of the continent.

Financial Inclusivity and Poverty Reduction

Overall, the emergence and success of these tech startups redefine mobile money and increase financial inclusivity in Africa. By digitizing the process, expanding services and reach as well as lowering costs, financial inclusivity is achieved. Even the most impoverished and marginalized populations are able to participate in the economy through mobile money platforms. According to a report by Boston Consulting Group, “the potential market for banks in sub-Saharan Africa is $500 billion.” For impoverished people who cannot acquire bank accounts, mobile money solutions break down barriers to financial inclusivity in Africa, empowering people to rise out of poverty.

– Annarosa Zampaglione
Photo: Flickr

disparities in Education in NigeriaNigeria has struggled with a weak education system for decades. Of the total number of children not in school worldwide, 20% of them live in Nigeria. Essentially, one in five children out of school resides in Nigeria. Girls make up a large percentage of children not in school. In Northern Nigeria, less than half of all girls actually attend school. COVID-19 has served to highlight the disparities in education in Nigeria.

COVID-19 Sheds Light on Inequalities

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of children not attending school in Nigeria stood at around 13 million. This number doubled to 36 million as schools closed and children were forced to stay home. A large portion of these children were girls. Many girls and children living in rural areas of Nigeria had difficulties accessing education during the pandemic. Even though the government implemented remote learning plans via radio and television, barriers still presented themselves.

Many students, especially those in rural areas, do not have access to electricity or technology, and therefore, could not access education at all. While more affluent families could continue connecting to education online, those without access were unable to learn for a prolonged period of time, setting them behind the rest of their classmates. While it has always been clear that disparities in education in Nigeria require improvement, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a greater desire for change.

How Improving Education Alleviates Poverty

There is a direct link between education and poverty, indicating how improving education in Nigeria can help the economic growth of the country while helping citizens rise out of poverty. When children are educated, they develop the skills and knowledge that can help them secure well-paying jobs in the future.

Furthermore, poverty is a cycle, and, a lack of access to education perpetuates that cycle. Oftentimes, parents are unable to send their children to school due to the unaffordable secondary costs of schooling. Even when school itself is free, textbooks and uniforms warrant costs that families simply cannot afford to pay. Uneducated children are unable to break cycles of poverty, meaning the next generation will most likely continue the cycle of poverty too.

Additionally, education reduces gender equality disparities. Educated girls are able to attain financial independence, reducing poverty for themselves and their communities. Educated women are also more likely to prioritize the education of their children. According to Global Citizen, If all adults completed secondary education, 420 million people could rise above the poverty line. This is due to the fact that education increases yearly earnings by 10% with each added year of education.

Latest Grant for Improving Education in Nigeria

The international community is working to help improve Nigeria’s education system with renewed vigor due to the intensified disparities caused by the pandemic. UNICEF allocated $20 million for the 2020-2022 period to support the education of children in Nigeria during COVID-19. The goals of the grant include four components:

  1. Supporting children affected by conflict. This goal involves building 100 temporary places for learning and rebuilding or creating 100 schools. It also includes creating more “gender-responsive” hygiene amenities and “promoting inclusive and gender-responsive enrollments in 18 local government areas across three states.” Furthermore, the grant aims to provide learning resources for 500,000 students. Roughly “100,000 conflict-affected children” will receive mental support services and 500 community leaders will be educated on protecting children’s rights.
  2. Improving the government’s role in education, especially in emergencies. This includes “budgeting, planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting.”
  3. Improving teacher preparation. This entails helping 28,000 teachers gain their teaching certification. A “teacher recruitment system” will be established and teachers will receive ongoing training to learn “Teaching at the Right Level.” A proper education assessment system will help monitor progress in schools.
  4. Improving the schools’ ability to support education for children affected by conflict. This involves “establishing and developing capacities of 300 school-based management committees on gender equity and gender-based violence” and promoting inclusivity of disabled students. Education plans should be conflict-sensitive to accommodate such children.

The Road Ahead

Education and poverty strongly correlate. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened inequality worldwide, exacerbating poverty and increasing the number of children out of school, especially in developing countries like Nigeria. To eliminate disparities in education in Nigeria, greater measures must be implemented to overcome inequalities and ensure the country’s education system is better equipped to handle unprecedented circumstances in the future. With grants from supporting organizations like UNICEF, education in Nigeria can improve.

– Alessandra Heitmann
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Nigeria
Nigeria is currently facing a daunting challenge that impacts the lives of millions in the country: hunger. Hunger in Nigeria has been escalating in recent months for various reasons and it has received international attention.

The Scale of the Crisis

Hunger in Nigeria is an immense problem that is currently putting millions at risk in the country. Between the three northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, almost 4.5 million people are now at risk of hunger. Of that 4.5 million, more than 700,000 are at imminent risk of starving to death.

Economics and Food

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a critical contributing factor in the ongoing rise in hunger in Nigeria. Unemployment has skyrocketed in the country, as one-third of the population does not have a job. Additionally, 70% of Nigerians have lost at least one form of income because of the pandemic.

Food inflation has also skyrocketed, worsening the state of hunger. Food inflation reached a 15-year high in 2021, rising to 22.95% in March. Import restrictions on rice and rising fuel costs have both contributed to this inflation.

Overall inflation and poverty levels have been on the rise, further compounding the hunger crisis. Inflation in Nigeria is the highest in the region, and the World Bank predicts the 2021 Nigerian inflation to be 16.5%. The inflation prediction for the sub-Saharan Africa region, excluding Nigeria, is only 5.9%. In the past year, food price inflation alone has accounted for 70% of Nigeria’s inflation.

The economic fallout of the pandemic could put more than 11 million Nigerians in poverty by 2022. The effects of the pandemic created a dangerous mix of unemployment, increased poverty, increased overall inflation, increased food inflation and widespread loss of income.

Conflict and Hunger

Conflict in Nigeria has contributed to the current hunger crisis. The impact of conflict in Nigeria is especially apparent with food inflation. Food costs have risen due to conflict between farmers and herders in the agricultural sector, as well as the ongoing insurgency by the Boko Haram terrorist organization.

Further, the ongoing conflict has made the state of hunger in Nigeria even worse by displacing many Nigerians. The states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, which are at high risk of widespread hunger, have also seen mass displacement due to conflict. In recent years, 8.7 million people have experienced displacement in these states due to the violence that “non-state armed groups” instigated

These large numbers of displaced persons often move into host communities that are ill-suited to the task. Such communities end up under the tremendous strain, as they have insufficient supplies, including food, to serve their newly enlarged populations.

Armed conflicts that prevent humanitarian aid from reaching those who need it is complicating the addressing of this crisis. Estimates indicate that aid cannot reach more than 800,000 people who live in areas that non-state armed groups control.

Aid Efforts

International organizations are trying to address hunger in Nigeria. The U.N. and other international organizations have continued to provide food assistance in Nigeria thanks to a process called localization. This process involves international organizations partnering with local NGOs to assist those in need, which enables local people, who might understand more, to help with local problems.

This coalition of organizations has provided support to camps for internally displaced persons. For example, the World Food Programme (WFP) has given starving Nigerians money to purchase food. However, this assistance has had a limited scope, as some camps only offer food support to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. All of these efforts to assist have not proven to be enough to address the crisis. 

Looking Ahead

Much work remains to address the current state of hunger in Nigeria. The U.N.-led coalition of organizations is attempting to reach more than 6 million Nigerians with humanitarian aid. However, this effort has received limited funding as it has only garnered 20% of the necessary funds.

To address this crisis, a significant amount of funding is necessary. The U.N. is calling for $250 million in food aid to meet Nigeria’s severe hunger situation.

The situation of hunger in Nigeria is in a state of crisis. Millions of Nigerians are at high risk of becoming food insecure, and hundreds of thousands are at risk of starving to death. Conflict, widespread displacement and high food inflation all impact the hunger situation in Nigeria. While a coalition of organizations provides as much aid as possible to those at risk, these organizations need more support from the international community.

– Coulter Layden
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