Trying to prevent a famine

The second half of this week’s UK-Nigeria weekly online meeting took a slight departure from the norm as we invited Ray who, in his own words, explained that he has “ a 20 year commitment to supporting violence reduction work and agriculture/climate change work/famine prevention in West Africa”.

This experience is of significant to John Dada and his team who are looking to develop an integrated plan that addresses the roots of the conflicts in Kafanchan and Jos. John is also currently seeking supports/funds for his latest intervention which is aimed at “Preparing for the Hunger Months in Kafanchan: aftermath of sectarian crisis”
During our meeting John shared a document pertaining to this with us and below I have extracted some of the main points.

Fantsuam Foundation has been working in this region since 2001, with its 35 Full time staff: 22 national Volunteers. Fantsuam Foundation, is located in Bayanloco, a peri-urban slum of Kafanchan, Kaduna State, but our activities and our vision extend beyond Kafanchan toward the whole of Kaduna State.

Microfinance has been our major income generating activity, supporting our integrated suite of integrated social development activities. Currently Fantsuam Foundation has approximately 2,000 active clients in almost 60 centres being serviced by a revolving loan fund of approximately US$360,000; and an administrative budget of US$32,000. 95% of our microfinance clients are women petty traders and small scale farmers.
All Fantsuam microfinance clients are required to undergo pre-loan training prior to receiving a loan. Under a World Bank funded programme administered by Partners for Development (PfD), Fantsuam’s Field Officers are also trained to deliver Business Development Services (BDS) training and SAFE (reproductive and family health) programmes to all clients, against targets provided by funders. The BDS programme also undertakes pre- and post-training impact assessments. Fantsuam Field Officers also promote Fantsuam’s range of services including ICT training, health clinic and HIV/AIDS support services to their clients.

On April 18th, post election violence broke out in five of the communities where Fantsuam has significant microfinance activities resulting in larger scale loss of lives, livelihoods and properties. Fantsuam Foundation provided shelter, food and clothes for over 200 people on the first day of the violence. Women and children form the bulk of people displaced and traumatised by this event.

Over half of the petty traders in the Kafanchan market ( which was burnt down during the violence) are women, and they have taken the brunt of this political and economic catastrophe. By targeting women with micro-funds for their petty trading, these women who have been victims of this political mayhem, can be empowered to become catalyst for the recovery of Kafanchan’s economic life as well as rebuilding their confidence to continue to work their way out of poverty.

The month of April is the time for major agricultural activities: land preparation and planting. The trauma and loss of livelihoods has to be urgently addressed so that women farmers can get back to their farms and start farm work. If this planting season is missed, there will be no harvests this year, compounding the hunger situation. Women’s strategic roles in the food value chain of rural families will be supported by providing them with some farm inputs".

Changes that Fantsuam's project aims to achieve: Violence disrupts development activities and increases poverty gaps. Our women-focused microfinance and other services would like to continue to act as catalyst for our clients to enhance their economic resilience so that they can continue to work their way out of poverty.

For a fuller report please see Famine Prevention Project.

The photo above shows Almajari who are young boys living with a Muslim teacher who are known as street children. This is because they need to beg daily for their food. Fantsuam Foundation have arranged for approx 15-20 boys to be fed by local Muslim women.

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