Building the Resilience of Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria

The insecurity in the North Eastern parts of Nigeria manifests itself in a number of ways—some at times underappreciated. While the issue of forced migration to flee radical Islamist violence is certainly not hidden, nor particularly recent, the overwhelming majority of humanitarian assistance and academic research on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Nigerian context, has thus far concentrated on those still residing in the North East, albeit not in their original homes. In this study, we seek to go beyond the epicentre (North East region) from which IDPs are mostly emanating, choosing instead, to focus on the three IDP camps located in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Abuja. By conducting a mixture of qualitative surveys and quantitative analysis, we set out to understand both the aspirations of IDPs in relation to their futures, their current habits and access to livelihood-generation methods. Our findings highlight a number of worrying trends: IDPs are increasingly staying longer periods of time as displaced individuals; this detaches them from their original, mostly agricultural sources of income, as well as from their safety networks usually held together by social relations; and finally, perhaps most worryingly, IDPs report a significant under-development of the necessary human capital to rebuild their lives in more urban, less agricultural, environments. While the focus on North Eastern IDPs is certainly necessary, we argue that the above-listed features of Abuja-based IDPs require a more concerted effort that takes into consideration the necessity of skills development amongst IDPs. If we are to find long-term solutions to the crisis, constantly “getting by” with short-term in-kind donations will not suffice. A greater evaluation of vocational training programmes, the increase of availability of suitable financial services, and an effort to prepare IDPs for urban job markets should be an integral part of any future solution.