Focus on Disability: Inclusion in North-East Nigeria
More than half of the population displaced in Northeast Nigeria from 2009 to 2021 living in camps are women and girls. They experience displacement differently from men and boys and face specific challenges that must be better understood to provide them with the support they need. Women and girls, in particular those living with disabilities, are often excluded from decision-making processes that have a direct effect on their lives and do not usually have a systematic channel for voicing their concerns. The decade-long conflict continues to take its toll on access to food, overcrowding of camps and shrinking access for humanitarians, which has led to increased vulnerability of displaced populations living in camps.
Approximately 27% of vulnerable displaced people in Northeast Nigeria have a disability, a number that has increased by the insurgency. Persons with disabilities living in camps are disproportionately affected, often being excluded from activities and interventions. With a lack of wheelchairs or other mobility aids, and with some people having lost their caregivers, persons with disabilities face further barriers particularly in regard to mobility to places of distribution and the physical implications a distribution brings. Persons with disabilities face discrimination and stigmatisation due to cultural and societal norms, which further hinderances their access. Moreover, there is a lack of inclusion and representation of person with disabilities in decision-making and camp governance structures or leadership in camps.
Through the Women’s Participation Project, IOM seeks to empower those who are facing increased vulnerability and risk to gender-based violence while ensuring that cultural norms and traditions are respected and considered. The Women’s Participation Project has been implemented in Nigeria since 2016, with the objective to enhance women’s participation in decision making, work towards reducing risks of Gender-based Violence (GBV) and ensure the inclusion of groups at risk, including persons with disabilities, in any of the project interventions. Currently, the project has been expanded to sites in Maiduguri (Bakasi, NYSC, Dalori), Konduga (Federal Training Centre), Jere (Muna El Badawy camp) and three hard-to-reach areas – Bama, Ngala and Gwoza.
According to a baseline assessment conducted in Dalori 2 in November 2020, persons with disabilities have been excluded in camp activities with no systematic channel for voicing their concerns. The assessment also captured thelack of representation of persons with disabilities in leadership structures. To address this issue and to enhance their participation, the Women’s Participation Project focused on enhancing the inclusion of persons (women, girls, men, and boys) with disabilities in leadership structures through advocacy meetings with community leaders and formalizing a disability committee with terms of reference. Across all four sites, 235 individuals were selected to participate in the Leadership Skills training, including members of the disabilities committee, aimed at improving the inclusion of women, girls, and persons with disabilities in camp decision making and increasing the understanding of the committees’ roles and responsibilities.
In 2021, the Women’s Participation Project focused on addressing the mobility challenge faced by persons with disabilities. The project supported 28 persons with disabilities with mobility aids such as hand and arm crutches, tricycles, and wheelchairs, with the aim to improve their mobility and to increase their access to livelihood activities of their choice.