Climate change is one of the biggest threats to humanity in the 21st century and is a major contributor to livelihood failures in sub-Saharan Africa. The climate crisis in Nigeria is leaving debilitating effects on the people’s livelihood and survival and the worst affected communities are those of Northeastern Nigeria. In this area, the most pronounced impact of climate change is the exacerbation of food insecurity since the economy of this region depends solely on agriculture, accounting for up to 70% of the livelihoods. This makes the region a ‘vulnerability hotspot for climate variability and change impact’. The unpredictability of weather conditions leading to drought and low farm yields have fueled the rift between farming communities and herders in search of pastures for their flock who end up destroying the farms of the local community dwellers. Also, climate change has led to forced migration from drought-affected and flood-prone communities, causing people to move to safer and more productive locations, thereby overstretching the resources in those areas and disconnecting many from their ancestral land.
The livelihood failures in Northeast Nigeria are particularly the aftermath of the conflicts and insurgencies aggravated by climate change.
In view of the livelihood failures in Northeast Nigeria, Ikore international is working with numerous stakeholders with the overarching idea of building strong institutional systems focused on the resilience and sustainability of households. We bring our approach down to the bottom of the pyramid using models that have been proven to substantively improve the living conditions of the economically disadvantaged and the hard to reach. Our approach to deploying our innovations is broadly categorized under skills and knowledge investment as well as information and awareness.
Skills and knowledge: Providing households that have lost their means of livelihood with skills that will help them generate income is more sustainable than offering immediate financial or material support. Since the livelihood of majority of the households depend on agriculture, Ikore invests in carefully identified vulnerable individuals and communities through capacity building in crop and livestock production in ways that guarantee substantive margins. Our investment in crop production utilizes irrigation systems and precision farming technology. For livestock production, climate-smart techniques are employed using improved breed, housing, and feeding systems. To ensure the effective translation of the skills transferred, beneficiaries of our investments are clustered and supported with input for implementing two to three production rounds of the specific skill they have been taught. The provision of input and operational support is in form of in-kind financing that eases off the burden of searching for business capital as they mostly lack collateral to access funding for these ventures. Since 2018, we have continued to drive impact in this area with over 600 beneficiaries (including 45% women) from the skills and knowledge investment and over 350 success stories recorded.
Information and awareness: Generally, there is a low level of public awareness on climate change topics in Nigeria, easily attributable to the low level of literacy among the most affected groups. Having identified this gap, Ikore leverages various innovative means to provide information, extension, and advisory services to crop and livestock farmers across states in Northern Nigeria to strengthen their agricultural adaptation and coping mechanisms thereby improving their productivity. An example of how we leverage these channels is shown through our work on the European Union-funded Livestock disease surveillance knowledge integration (LIDISKI) project. We leverage trained community animal health workers (CAHWs) to spread awareness about the causes and prevention of diseases that affect their livestock using below-the-line communication tools like posters and flyers, organizing information campaigns where farmers are educated about various livestock diseases, and use of radio jingles to pass this valuable information.
Additionally, our work is helping farmers to improve their local agricultural practices year on year. Through our tailored short messaging platform, we support crop farmers, providing timely information and advisory services on weather conditions and suitability for farming purposes, input sourcing, and marketing for their products. A feedback channel is incorporated into the platform that enables us to learn from the realities of the farmers and advise in view of these realities. The support we provide has shown a marked increase in farmers’ production and productivity by up to 150% over the last 3 years. Currently, we maintain a database of over 10,000 farmers across Northeastern Nigeria who benefit firsthand from our services. Considering the enormous grounds we have covered as a growing organization, we are pushing for a wider reach that allows us to serve up to 500,000 farmers per planting season in this area alone 4 years from now.
Our models are continuously evolving as we learn new ways to help vulnerable groups who are either displaced or marginalized to contribute to reducing the effect of climate change, build resilience to shocks, and improve their productivity. At Ikore, our approach is result-driven, and we utilize strategies that prime the market for profitability and/or develop market systems, ultimately contributing to food security and sustainable livelihoods.