The AUN/UNHCR “Protect Livelihoods Project I” has ended in Gombe State. The humanitarian intervention scheme, which kicked off early this year, has graduated 500 beneficiaries of its financial literacy, cooperative society, and vocational skills acquisition training in Nafada and Funakaye local government areas.
The AUN Grant & Contracts Administrator, Audu Liman, noted that the project aimed at “providing the most vulnerable host community members, IDPs, and returnees, hands-on, sustainable skills in order to generate and earn incomes.”
Based on the market-demand analysis for certain goods or services in their communities, “The beneficiaries were trained on groundnut processing, pastries, disinfectants, cosmetics, soap making, tailoring; a few selected best from each training skill-set will be given a starter kit.” He explained that an oil press machine will be provided for the women to share in the community, and a little token fee will be charged. This will be used to service/maintain the machine.
The Grant Administrator is confident that the skills gained by the beneficiaries are sustainable, including the financial literacy program where AUN has a success record in its other development programs outside of Gombe. “The skills acquisition training will lift the beneficiaries out of acute poverty.”
During the training, one meal per day was given to the trainees to enable them to stay focused and learn. Most of the participants claimed that the daily meal saved them from hunger in the three months of enrollment in the program.
Having lost so much, the training was all that kept them occupied for the past months. Trainer Akim Wesley said some of the women developed strong bonds at the center, sharing their struggles about marriage, oppression, and survival, and she was very impressed to see how much they have been able to grasp in less than three weeks, especially at the tailoring section.
“If you notice, the skills that the beneficiaries learned are unique to their communities and have high competitive market value,” said Hanijyi Bala, AUN/UNHCR Field Officer. He explained that they factored in culture and religion during the research phase. It was revealed that because of the local culture, women or housewives in such communities were less likely to engage in street hawking, but they were most apt to engage in small businesses from home.
Bala gave a brief analysis of the market value of some of the skills taught at the program. “A bottle of home-made, pressed groundnut oil costs N500, the liquid soap goes for N200 while the bar soap costs N100. A tailor can earn as high as N2,000 sewing just a kaftan.” The field officer noted that these were basic commodities needed in the local communities.
The training has been a lifesaver to the beneficiaries. Pregnant 32-year-old Goggo Zarma, an IDP from Borno State who has resettled in Nafada Local Government Area, praised the AUN/UNHCR financial literacy program. Goggo showed up at the graduation ceremony wearing her own self-made uniform to prove her new skill.
Dressed in his new maroon kaftan, 22-year-old Abubakar Yakubu, an IDP from Yobe State, testified that before the training he was “jobless.” Now, with his newly acquired sewing skills, Yakubu cannot wait to start making a living from tailoring.
At Funakaye, the Hakimin of Bajoga, Alhaji Garba Muhammed, praised AUN/UNHCR for the intervention scheme. “It is a relief to the community.” He recounted how he was worried when the refugees began trooping into their village and had no one to support them. “I am happy they can now be independent,” he said.
By Nelly Ating