By: Joy Odor/Abuja
They had struggled for years as subsistence farmers, yet the family was so poor that, they could not afford eating thrice a day, let alone exchanging farm produce for cash. JOY ODOR tells story of Bakari’s family.
Bakari’s are a farming family of five in Dumne community of Adamawa State, which hunger and poverty almost turned into disarray.
Mrs. Yelwa Bakari said, she almost left her husband due to extreme poverty she witnessed in her husband house. However, she now sings a different song, thanks European Union and Oxfam International’s poverty alleviation programme.
The programme tagged Pro-Resilience Action (Pro-Act), implemented by Christian Rural & Urban Development Association of Nigeria (CRUDAN) has changed the fortune of Bakari’s family. Not only do they feed thrice daily, Mrs. Bakari who once contemplated divorce now owns a sustainable business.
EU and Oxfam after identifying the rural communities as contributing the greater percentage to the poverty figure in Nigeria, they rolled out the 4-year PROACT project, focusing on improving food security, nutrition and livelihoods of poor farming households in 70 rural communities of Kebbi and Adamawa States.
The project has many components including; Establishment of Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA), Farmers training field school, Conditional and unconditional ash transfer, Income generating activities training, Farm inputs distribution, Food loan, Livestock transfer, Tree planting, Health and nutrition training and Linkage of farmers to input suppliers and produce off-takers among others.
Mrs. Bakari, a member of the Village Savings and Loans Association said, the PROACT project has helped her to stand on her feet, as she expressed optimism that, she will soon become a house owner.
According to Mrs. Yelwa, a mother of three, when Oxfam came to the Community with the initiative, life has not been good for her family; they could not eat three square meal a day or even have money to buy drugs when any of the family is sick.
She was of the opinion that the situation was so bad that, they could not buy a good farming seedling which was why they harvest poor products, noting that as soon as Oxfam touched their lives positively through the introduction of VSLA Pro-Act Initiative, her life and that of her family change to better and she is not thinking of leaving her family any more.
Mrs. Yelwa Bakari added that since the initiative started paying, she has bought grinding machine, her three children are going to school, they are feeding well, their farming is yielding good products, she is thinking of building a house and going into another business.
According to her, “Before Oxfam came to our community, l was planning to leave my husband because of poverty and frustration l was facing, my family was not feeding well. My family could not eat three square meal, only once a day.
“But now that they have showed us how to survive by self help and things has turned around in my family. I will not leave my husband again.
“Since Oxfam came, my family has been taken out of poverty based on our community level. I have grinding machine, l make N1, 500 to N2000 a day with the grinding machine l do, but before l could not touch N100.
“When l gathers enough money, l is planning to buy more grinding machines, car and build a house for my family. I have benefited many things from Oxfam.” She narrated.
She therefore appealed to the sponsors of Oxfam for an extension of the program billed to end next year (2020) to allow more participants to benefit.
Mrs. Yelwa Bakari called on their State government and their representative in the National Assembly to quickly continue the program by taking over the initiative.
“I want to thank Oxfam for their effort which was powered by EU in collaboration with CRUDAN to ensure many lives in Dumne Community are touched and lifted out of poverty and to stop people migrating to urban centers in search of work that is not there.
“I was to ask the donor agencies and partners to please increase the years of the project so that those in the community that have not benefited will do so” She begged.
Speaking on the aim of the project, Oxfam Co-ordinating Officer, Mr. Faleye Usman said, poverty is a major catalyst that fuels rural urban migration causing serious socio-economic tension in major cities of Nigeria, this is why Oxfam brought this programme, to show Government at all levels that, little empowerment to people in rural communities can bridge the gap of poverty, reduce malnutrition and rural-urban.
The initiative according to him, was aimed at improving food security, reduce malnutrition and poverty in the northern region and make the vulnerable rural poor economically empowered.
He said, under the Pro-Act programme, 35,000 households have been empowered in many Adamawa communities and they are beginning to see the results after three years of implementation.
“About 1,400 benefited from Village Saving and Loans, 140 benefited under Community Lead Farming, 70 benefited in Community Farmers Field Training School, 2,870 benefited under Unconditional Cash Transfer, 5,740 with Livestock Transfer Program while Oxfam distributed 126,622 bags of fertilizer to 22,300 farmers, 442 water pumps under input Revolving Fund Mechanism while about 350 Community Food Reserves and Grain Banks are being constructed.” He said.