At this week’s UK-Nigeria online meeting John Dada was able to update us about the important work that he and Fantsuam Foundation are doing for the elderly woman in their community. Previously we had heard about the ongoing Kakas (grandmothers) programme and John had recently told us the Helpage International had asked FF to collect some of the "voices" of the Kakas to input into the UN Review of the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and its Political Declaration, MIPAA. Focus groups have now be organised so that we can listen to and learn from these Grandmothers.
John explained that: “There is no support whatsoever from the Government for the elderly, and children used to be the old-age insurance. This has now changed as many youths are jobless and are still dependent on their ageing parents. Matters are compounded for the elderly women here especially if they are widows, childless, or if their children died. They get accused of witchcraft, we had one of such at yesterday's session,(Tuesday) and promptly enrolled her in Kakas programme“
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.
Two pieces of good news provided the highlight of this week’s UK-Nigeria meeting. The first was that the peer educators project was starting that very day. The second was that officials from the French Embassy - who were visiting Fantsuam Foundation (FF) at the time of last week’s meeting - had agreed to resume funding for the Attachab project.
John Dada told us that in principle the project has been approved and Fantsuam are now mobilising workers to the site.
He further informed us that the French Embassy had reduced the previously-discussed budget by 20% (this was all put on hold due to the post-election violence) but that they are willing to consider further future funding if the first phase goes well.
The project will consist of two phases: Setting up vegetable/crop/ fishery and road infrastructure and training the farmers.
John said: “We expect the first set of funding by next week. I have started to mobilise masons, carpenters, casual labour, a borehole engineer, and a solar engineer for the site. We will hit the ground running.”
Reassuringly, John told us the Embassy had approached FF’s funder Partners for Development for advice and reference. Apparently they were satisfied with their findings.
Wednesday also saw the start of the HIV peer educators’ program funded by UNICEF.
Despite the UK-Nigeria meeting being less than our usual hour, this didn’t affect the usual flow of quality information between the two countries.
John explained that he needed to leave shortly as Fantsuam Foundation were expecting a delegation from the French Embassy in Abuja. The UK were very pleased to hear this as they had been disappointed to learn previously (in the wake of the sectarian violence in April) the French Embassy had suspended their support for Attachab.
However, recently they called John to say they would like to now reactivate their commitment and so he was meeting with them this morning to decide priorities of the project.
The original agreement was to develop Attachab as a hands-on training permaculture venue.
Following the post-election violence John also hopes to ensure the project addresses helping those who lost properties in the mayhem, and to enable them to rebuild their food stores. Fantsuam have some experience in this area as demonstrated by their rhumbu project.
John has contacted someone who has trained at Songhai - a permaculture centre of excellence who will advise on this aspect of the project.
The Attachab project is of tremendous importance for us all for Fantsuam aims to replicate and what they know with others. For example, we know of community representatives in Kenya and Tanzania who are keen to improve their farming techniques and who are also willing to pass their knowledge and skillls on to help benefit their communities.
John said: “We would like to raise awareness in the local schools on basic handwashing, but the schools have no running water, and some have no toilets.
“We are thinking of installing some basic but affordable hand-washing stations in a few of the schools. It’s a small step, but in the right direction.”
John explained that a good first step would be the siting of a water bottle hanging from a string, so that it tips easily for washing one's hands.
In typical John Dada and Fantsuam Foundation fashion - where there is always the drive to share and replicate - John suggested that on the global Handwashing day that it would be good to make Fola at the Ago-Are Dadamac outpost aware of this global initiative so that they too could join in the day. From this discussion came the firming up of the idea of linking Fola’s Ago-Are children with those at Fantsuam Foundation’s children’s computer club.
John said: “We are also keen to start a School Radio Program where kids will hear themselves discussing issues with other kids.
“The Children's Radio idea is nothing new. When I was in the Primary school, we used to have one lesson period during the week, when the head teacher brings a radio to our class and we all cluster around it to listen to some lessons.