DFID’s programme in Nigeria Contents

5Conflict and fragility

117.Boko Haram was founded around 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf, a radical preacher based in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Boko Haram did not begin as a violent movement, nor at the point of its transition to a terrorist network in 2009–10 was it a movement of such size and organisation as to be considered a threat to the Nigerian state.209 Yet in 2014, Nigeria saw the largest increase in terrorist deaths ever recorded by any country in a year, increasing by over 300 per cent to 7,512 fatalities and making Boko Haram the deadliest terrorist group in the world.210 Since 2009, around 2.5 million people have fled their homes in the worst-affected areas of Adamawa, Borno, Gombe and Yobe in the North East. The conflict has displaced 2.2 million internally and left around seven million in need of emergency, life-saving assistance.211 In December 2015, President Buhari declared that Nigeria had “technically won the war” against Boko Haram, yet this was seen by some as a premature announcement.212

118.Conflict and instability is not confined to the North East of Nigeria. Tensions between the nomadic pastoralist Fulani people and their settled counterparts over the use of land for grazing livestock have been long-standing.213 Such clashes were associated with the deaths of over 1,000 people in 2014—a substantial increase from 63 in 2013.214

119.In the Niger Delta, there has been a recent surge of attacks on oil infrastructure and installations. These have largely attributed to the ‘Niger Delta Avengers’, a new group demanding greater ownership of resources for people living in oil-producing areas, as well as environmental repair and compensation for damages inflicted by oil producers.215 After an amnesty deal was reached between the government and armed groups in 2009, the Niger Delta enjoyed a period of relative harmony. Former combatants were paid monthly stipends for keeping the peace and their former commanders were awarded federal government contracts for securing pipelines. However, incidents of oil theft and sabotage have also increased following President Buhari’s decision to cut the budget for an amnesty programme previously set up with militant groups and his decision to cancel the security contracts given to ex-militants as part of his effort to tackle corruption.216

Fig 7: Number or estimate of fatalities due to armed conflict, 2006–2015

Source: Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, created by Prof. Clionadh Raleigh, Univesity of Sussex

DFID’s work in the North East

120.Conflict in the North East has taken a considerable toll on the development situation—one of Nigeria’s poorest regions even before the crisis. As Plan International UK wrote:

“Even prior to the degeneration of the security situation in the region, it [the North East] harbored some of the country’s worst development indicators—poverty and employment is above national average, worst cases of maternal and under-five mortality, and highest level of illiteracy. The years of violence have further compounded the situation. The country is facing the largest humanitarian situation in the region with over two million IDPs and 500,000 refugees.”217

Despite the additional operational difficulties created by the conflict, DFID has continued to support the North East, including through:

121.One key area highlighted in evidence for strengthening was support to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). Dr Caroline Varin told us:

“[…] the one thing that seems to me to be able to bring a real advantage would be looking into NEMA, the National Emergency Management Agency, which is, in my experience, particularly bad and can do a lot of good. […] that is an area where DFID can have a real impact with humanitarian aid”.219

122.While DFID’s commitment to humanitarian support in the North East is welcome, it does appear that DFID’s response to the crisis has been small relative to the overwhelming financial support offered to other crises, for example the Syria crisis. In 2015, the UK committed US$635 million in humanitarian funding in Syria,220 and only US$6 million in Nigeria.221 While the scale of the two crises differ, there is still a large imbalance in the funding per person affected. The relatively low levels of support contributed to a seriously underfunded UN Nigeria appeal last year, with the 2015 appeal only 58% funded and support to education being the most underfunded sector at 25%.222

123.According to UNICEF, 952,029 school-age children have been forced to flee the violence in the North East and more than 600,000 have lost access to learning due to the conflict.223 It is not only displaced children whose education is affected but also those from the communities hosting them. Reports indicate that camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) have taken over educational facility grounds, contributing to Borno state children being out of school for over a year.224 Analysis of the impact of conflict on education and on the impact of education on conflict has been carried out by the Education Sector Support Programme in Nigeria (ESSPIN)—DFID’s largest education programme in the country.

124.Safety of schools is also a key issue. The abduction of 276 girls from a school in Chibok in Borno state by Boko Haram militants brought significant international attention to the conflict and the dangers faced by women and girls in Nigeria. On our visit to Abuja we met with parents, community leaders and other campaigners for the Bring Back Our Girls campaign. Witnessing their passion and commitment in securing the safe return home for the 218 girls still missing left a lasting impression on us. As a Committee and as individual MPs we continue to push for UK Government support for a safe return of the Chibok girls.

125.Schools have been consistently targeted by Boko Haram attacks, with some parents withdrawing their children due to fears for their safety, exacerbating already low enrolment rates.225 Following the Chibok kidnapping, DFID has provided support to the Safe Schools Initiative, aimed at bolstering the security of schools in partnership with community groups and the Nigerian Government. In written evidence, International Alert pointed out that President Buhari appointed an investigative committee to assess the vulnerability of education facilities, and recommended that DFID engage with that committee in implementing its findings.226

126.At the recent World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, the Education Cannot Wait fund for education in emergencies was launched, with an initial commitment of US$90 million.227 The UK is the largest donor to the fund with an initial contribution of £30 million. UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown highlighted the importance of this fund when he said: “We should not have to wait more than a year for help to come when we have a plan and could act immediately. A child needs hope and education and a future.”228

127.We commend DFID on its commitment to humanitarian support in the North East, but we are concerned about the gap between humanitarian needs and available funds. We are particularly troubled by the number of out of school children and the long term impacts this is likely to have on the region’s development, potentially further widening the gap between the North and South of Nigeria. Assuring parents of the safety and security of schools in Northern Nigeria should be a priority, and we welcome DFID’s support to the Safe Schools Initiative in this respect.

128.DFID must do all it can to ensure that the UN appeal for Nigeria in 2016 is fully funded. In line with commitments made to education in emergencies at the World Humanitarian Summit in May, DFID should use both its own resources and its influence over other donors to ensure that the Education Cannot Wait Fund is well supported and quickly operationalised so that interruptions to education caused by the conflict are minimised to no more than 30 days. We also recommend that DFID scale up its support for the Safe Schools Initiative, and engage with and support the special investigative committee appointed by President Buhari to assess the safety of schools in Nigeria. Finally, the recommendations of the research conducted by ESSPIN into the impact of conflict on education should be properly financed and implemented, and similar research should be conducted with the informal Quranic schools that DFID also works with.

129.Unsurprisingly, there are significant challenges associated with operating in the North East. DFID has a responsibility to provide adequate duty of care to its staff, and as Adam Smith International highlighted, the further North East that DFID operates the higher this cost of ensuring staff security will be.229 Adam Smith International also indicated that DFID’s programming objectives will be more difficult to achieve in such a fragile context, particularly with regard to economic development. It stated in written evidence:

“Security challenges currently impact the ability of DFID to achieve target outcomes in its northern programmes. A lack of security undermines domestic and foreign investor confidence and harms the investment environment. It also disrupts commercial activity, limiting the ability of state governments to collect internally generated revenue through taxes, and limiting appetite for reform given the wish of voters that they concentrate on security.”230

130.Despite this acute insecurity, DFID has managed to maintain a foothold in the North East by remaining flexible and responsive to the changing security situation. As Palladium stated:

“DFID and its suppliers remain able to operate safely and effectively in the north by adopting a conflict sensitive approach, keeping programming flexible and exploratory, and adhering to a well designed security framework. This allows programmes to continue to operate while being able to recognise and respond quickly to changes in the security situation and reallocate resources when insecurity restricts operation in certain areas.”231

131.Palladium also highlighted several features of the DFID-funded Nigeria Maternal and Newborn Child Health (MNCH2) Programme which allow it to operate effectively in six Northern states. The programme largely works with and within government service delivery structures. It has a very low-visibility presence and uses a completely local team to deliver activities as well as working through a flexible delivery model that can be scaled up and down to respond to the current security situation.232 Using well-trained and well-supported teams of local staff can be particularly effective. Health Partners International have found that a well-engaged team comprising indigenes of affected states: receives support and important information from the community; is able to maintain a low profile while still continuing to work; has a deep understanding of practical issues affecting implementation and local acceptance; and can keep programme activities going in safe areas despite terrorist attacks and the activities of security forces in others.233

132.Evidence also stressed the importance of DFID being well-placed to scale up its intervention in the North East as and when the security situation allows for it. As Plan International UK stated in written evidence: “DFID needs to be strategically placed in the recovery process to help rebuild institutions and support the required changes in the region.”234

133.We commend DFID on its continued commitment to development in the North East of Nigeria despite the exceptionally challenging operational environment. DFID has demonstrated its ability to work flexibly and adapt to changing security conditions, whilst maintaining its efforts to fight poverty in a highly unstable region. The lessons learned in the North East of Nigeria will be invaluable in other parts of Nigeria and other DFID programmes globally, as the Department increases its focus on fragile states in line with the recent aid strategy.

134.We recommend DFID ensures that it has robust processes in place for learning and disseminating lessons on effectively operating in a fragile environment. It is essential that core staff and implementing partners engage with each other effectively through regular meetings, and that best practice is shared with other country teams globally. DFID should continue to monitor the security situation as closely as possible, and ensure that it is in a position to expand both its humanitarian and development activities towards the North East as the situation stabilises.

Tackling the drivers of conflict

135.The causes of conflict in the North East, the ‘Middle Belt’ and the Niger Delta are complex and multifaceted. As Dr Caroline Varin, Lecturer in Security and International Organisations, Regent’s University London, told us, the factors driving conflict include: “socioeconomic inequalities and political isolation, lack of education infrastructures, and the opportunities for charismatic preachers. This is compounded by Government failures, creating a perfect storm.”235 According to Professor Abiodun Alao, Professor of African Studies, King’s College London, these Government failures are the product of: “the complete weakness or the selective efficiency of structures of governance.”236

136.The pressures induced by climate change have raised challenges in keeping the peace, particularly with regards to the Fulani herdsmen in the ‘Middle Belt’. In written evidence, Atta Barkindo stated:

“Climate change and environmental degradation is likely to be Nigeria’s next ‘Boko Haram’. With lack of investment, job opportunities and economic growth, many local people depend on the land for everything. At the moment, desertification caused by both natural and human factors have added to the level of drought, hunger, internal migration, cross-border mobility and competition over land and resources.”237

Professor Abdul Raufu Mustapha, Associate Professor of African Politics, University of Oxford, suggested that this problem has been exacerbated by the breakdown of governance and security in rural areas.238 Professor Alao emphasised land disputes as the central factor in the various conflicts across Nigeria, telling us that:

“In Nigeria, people do not fight over oil; they do not fight over gold or anything. They fight about the land accommodating these resources. This is very central, and any attempt to look at anything in Nigeria must take that into consideration.”239

137.Conflict is also exacerbated by the lack of alternatives for youths. With respect to the Niger Delta, Dr Caroline Varin said: “what alternatives are there for the young people in the region, other than working in oil? Seeing the degradation of their land limits them, and sometimes picking up weapons is the easiest way to have a livelihood.”240 Yet skills training and employment opportunities must be carefully matched. As Dr Kate Meagher noted in written evidence, labour market saturation in the informal economy had led to: “mounting tensions between indigenes and non-indigenes over access to informal jobs”.241 In this way, training people in sectors where there is limited labour market capacity may actually increase tensions between groups. Ben Mellor, Head of Office and Country Representative, DFID Nigeria, told us that: “We are consulting with Nigerian youth about what they want to see as the priorities for DFID going forward, what they see as the future of their country, and how we can contribute to it.”242

138.Despite the complex overlap of various factors in driving conflict in Nigeria, DFID was praised in evidence to this inquiry on the effective approach of its Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) Dr Kate Meagher wrote:

“I think that DFID’s programmes conducted through the NSRP have been well conceived, appropriately focused and constructive. […] DFID’s engagement with the NSRP on wider issues of governance and security have informed and supported better policy, and have delivered value for money.”

139.The drivers of conflict in Nigeria are multifaceted and complex, demanding a deep level of understanding and careful engagement with relevant stakeholders. DFID’s approach through the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) has proved successful in supporting policy and delivering good value for money in addressing issues relating to employment and empowerment, management of land and water and environmental degradation due to oil spills. We were pleased to hear that DFID has engaged in a consultation process with Nigerian youth in planning its future priorities.

140.We recommend that DFID continues its support for work to address the drivers of conflict through the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP). Following the increase in violence in the Middle Belt and its association with the impacts of climate change, DFID should strengthen its approach to mitigating these impacts. Building climate change resilience, particularly in the Middle Belt, should be increasingly prioritised by the NSRP moving forward. It should also make youth consultations a key feature of its planning processes for future activities, particularly in fragile states.

Reconciliation and community cohesion

141.In December 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the Nigerian Government had “technically won the war” against Boko Haram.243 The Nigerian authorities have begun the return process of urging refugees to go back to their homes by closing down IDP camps.244 Surveys by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) suggest that, while the vast majority of IDPs want to return home, eight out of ten said they didn’t feel safe enough to return, and 17% said they would need more money to do so.245 IDPs will undoubtedly need support if they are to return to their communities and thrive. As Tearfund highlighted in written evidence:

“Communities in rural areas of the northeast largely depend on farming for their livelihoods and sustenance. Even if security improves, most families will not be able to support themselves in the short term when they return.”246

UNDP suggested that this gap in livelihoods could be filled with the assistance of DFID:

“DFID could support large-scale temporary employment generation programmes and unconditional cash transfers which target households which will provide vital income to families that experienced major losses as a result of the conflict; in the same context, enterprise recovery schemes need to be supported in order to rapidly get microenterprises back in business through dedicated grants.”

142.Supporting the livelihoods of the displaced is likely to prove difficult, and there are also significant challenges in rebuilding cohesive communities. As Dr Caroline Varin pointed out:

“Another problem they [the displaced] face is being integrated into the new communities. There is a lot of fear that they have been infiltrated by Boko Haram, so that can create a lot of tensions in that community, so it is perhaps about working on mediation or helping them integrate into this new environment.”247

The nature of the conflict may pose additional challenges. Dr Varin told us that:

“I do not think it is a religious conflict. It is a conflict over resources and power, and that is being emphasised through a rhetoric of religion, and trying to implement that fear, which is proving to be correct because there is violence. […] I do not think the problem there is a religious problem, though it can become one.”248

Others argue that this has already become a religious problem.

143.A recent report by Open Doors UK, a charity that supports persecuted Christians, stated that: “This socio-economic conflict has adopted a distinctly religious undertone with local sources convinced that Christian communities face greater levels of attack than their Muslim neighbours.”249 Regardless of whether the conflict is of a religious nature, faith-based organisations undoubtedly have a key role to play in integrating the displaced and working towards reconciliation and community cohesion. As Tearfund mentioned in written evidence:

“By drawing upon religious beliefs to promote peace and reconciliation while at the same time being able to work with communities in addressing the other underlying causes of poverty and marginalisation. DFID would be investing in an avenue which has potentially excellent value for money as the benefits of effective peacebuilding and conflict resolution can be achieved with relatively low funding and resource outlay.”250

144.With territory being recaptured from Boko Haram and displaced persons being encouraged to return home, it is vital that these people are adequately supported in rebuilding their lives. There will be significant challenges in the near future in providing livelihoods for the displaced as well as integrating them into cohesive communities to build lasting peace.

145.We urge DFID to prioritise livelihoods and peacebuilding in its programming in the North East. DFID should encourage the Nigerian Government to launch large-scale temporary employment generation programmes and cash transfers targeting the poorest households with DFID support. Reconciliation and community cohesion should also be considered a priority. The more effective peacebuilding elements of the Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) should be scaled up and concentrated on the communities where they are most necessary. DFID should fund and make use of the experiences of faith-based organisations and other civil society groups, who are in a unique position to bridge divisions within and between communities.

146.Professor Abiodun Alao told us: “The key thing is for DFID to formulate policies in conjunction with the community.”251 Community level approaches to security and good governance can have significant impact, quickly. International Alert stated in written evidence:

“It is Alert’s observation that community-level governance efforts produce significant impact over shorter periods of time. […] If DFID could focus more on the community level in approaches to community security and good governance, even in cross-border areas with Cameroon and Niger, we envisage that the dividends for peace and security would be significant.”252

147.A 2015 review of DFID’s work in security and justice by ICAI considered both the top-down institutional approach and the community-based approach. While ICAI considered both to be necessary, community-based work showed the most promise in terms of impact for the poor. The review concluded that: “DFID needs to rethink its approach to community security, working with a wider range of partners to develop tailored solutions to local problems.”253 In written evidence, Diana Good commented on the apparent effectiveness of DFID’s community based work, particularly with respect to the Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) and the Community Accountability Forum (CAF), which form part of DFID’s Justice for All (J4A) programme.254 Ms Good went on to say:

“The most promising work seems to be at community level where localised engagement shows signs of making a real difference and of establishing sustainable programming. More could be done to analyse the problems from the perspective of the intended beneficiaries of the development work, that is the poor including women, girls, and youth. Whilst top down work serves an important purpose, the intended beneficiaries are the poor and not the institutions of justice. For them, the institutions of justice may be very remote.”255

148.Community level engagement should be inclusive and account for the needs of the most vulnerable. People with disabilities in Nigeria face a range of social and environmental barriers which prevent them from accessing education, livelihoods, healthcare, water and sanitation, a situation that is worsening for the many people affected by conflict. As CBM pointed out in written evidence: “Instability in the North of Nigeria is exacerbating the situation for people with disabilities, who due to their relative poverty and lack of access to humanitarian responses, are at a higher risk than people without disabilities.”256 Despite this, there was no mention of prioritising disabled people in the project documentation for DFID’s now concluded Emergency Humanitarian Relief in Nigeria project.257 There was only brief mention of disabilities, and no specifics in outputs or activities, in DFID’s ongoing Life Saving Humanitarian Support in Northeast Nigeria.258 This is despite the emphasis on making humanitarian responses inclusive in DFID’s disability framework.259

149.Community-based approaches to conflict recovery will be central to building lasting peace in conflict-affected parts of Nigeria. We commend DFID on some of the promising results emerging from its community level work, particularly with respect to the newer elements of the Justice for All programme such as the Sexual Assault Referral Centres (SARCs) and Community Accountability Forum (CAF). However, we have concerns about how inclusive its humanitarian response has been in serving the needs of the most vulnerable, particularly with respect to displaced people with disabilities.

150.We recommend DFID scale up its community-based work, which the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) has suggested can have a promising pro-poor impact. Specifically, DFID should aim to scale up its community-based efforts in the areas of justice and peace and security, with a particular focus on the communities worst affected by Boko Haram in the North East. In line with its disability framework, we urge DFID to adjust the focus of its ‘Life Saving Humanitarian Support in Northeast Nigeria’ programme to include specific targets to cater for the needs of people with disabilities affected by the conflict.

210 Institute for Economics and Peace, Global Terrorism Index 2015 (November 2015), p 2

211 UN OCHA Nigeria, ‘About the Crisis,’ accessed 4 July 2016

214 Institute for Economics and Peace, Global Terrorism Index 2015 (November 2015), p 22

217 Plan International UK (NIG0002) para 15

218 DFID (NIG0011) p 6–7

220 UN OCHA Financial Tracking Service, Syrian Arab Republic - Civil Unrest 2015 Table B: Total funding per donor (July 2016)

221 UN OCHA Financial Tracking Service, Nigeria 2015 Table B: Total funding per donor (July 2016)

222 UN OCHA Financial Tracking Service, Humanitarian Response Plan(s): Nigeria 2015 (July 2016)

224 International Alert (NIG0025) p 2

226 International Alert (NIG0025) p 3

227 World Humanitarian Summit, Chair’s Summary (May 2016), p 5

228Gordon Brown Calls for Global Education Emergency Fund”, The Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, 26 January 2015

229 Adam Smith International (NIG0009) para 5.2

230 Adam Smith International (NIG0009) para 5.3

231 Palladium (NIG0012) para 5.1.1

232 Palladium (NIG0012) para 5.2.1

233 Health Partners International (NIG0018) para 14

234 Plan International UK (NIG0002) para 15

237 Atta Barkindo (NIG0036) p 2

241 Dr Kate Meagher (NIG0032) p 1

244NEMA shuts down 6 IDPs camps in Adamawa” Nigerian Daily Post, 12 May 2016

246 Tearfund (NIG0024) para 2.12

250 Tearfund (NIG0024) para 2.18

252 International Alert (NIG0025) p 3

253 Independent Commission for Aid Impact, Review of UK Development Assistance for Security and Justice (March 2015), para 6.24

254 Ms Diana Good (NIG0030) para 29

255 Ms Diana Good (NIG0030) para 38

256 CBM (NIG0013) para 2.4

257 DFID, ‘Emergency Humanitarian Relief in Nigeria,’ accessed 4 July 2016

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25 July 2016