The Global Forum on Church and Poverty inspired me to begin to see Nigeria in the light of Jubilee. This, in turn, prompted me to start to fully engage in practical actions. After my return from the forum, my concerns for internally displaced people (IDPs) triggered a sense of responsibility to them.
Nigeria, particularly the Middle Belt, is experiencing massive displacement and deaths among the indigenous farming communities at the hands of the Fulani herdsmen. These farmers are responsible for the food we eat. They are forced to seek temporary shelter in inappropriately resourced and insecure camps.
Tragically, there is a link between injustice, youth, inequality, poverty and displacement. The reality is that the state emergency management agency in Plateau State is overwhelmed. The relief from a few churches and organisations (NGOs and INGOs) is incapable of meeting the food and livelihood needs of the displaced farming families.
Need for food
Relief alone cannot be a sustainable solution to these families’ humanitarian needs. The majority of IDPs have identified food as their most pressing need. They have limited food access because their stocks were looted and there is little possibility to replenish farm stocks. The production of staple foods and cash crops is below average in Plateau State.
Prices remain extremely high around the country and are expected to continue increasing because of the current inflation and recession – not least because the farmers being displaced are responsible for the food grown within Nigeria. Food assistance has been inadequate and irregular, as the victims are largely young men and women, who are the taskforce.
‘The majority of IDPs have identified food as their most pressing need.’
As I reflect upon Jubilee versus this vicious cycle, and the many families forced to stay in camps within the city, I wondered what action would demonstrate Jubilee and help these families beyond providing them with relief.
This could be a sustainable project that will enable them to farm again while in the camps. I have since started mobilising youth groups and churches to think beyond relief to support a project that helps rent or secure urban spaces that are not developed and are relatively secure and peaceful. These spaces will allow farmers to farm until government and security agencies are able to restore these communities back to their farmlands.
Seed funds will be raised by young people through a charity concert. I intend to launch this project – ‘Farming in crisis’ – next farming season. This will provide a more substantial solution to these food issues.
This and many similar initiatives will continue to be my driving force, which is a byproduct of my fruitful time spent at the Global Forum on Church and Poverty.