Mercy Corps Expanding Relief Efforts to Address Destruction Left in Boko Haram's Wake

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In previously inaccessible areas in northeast Nigeria, 80% of shelters damaged and families unable to afford food

A displaced woman collects her e-voucher (to be exchanged for food) in Biu, Borno state, from a Mercy Corps team member. Credit: Tom Saater for Mercy Corps

Both international donors and governments in the region need to respond quickly with short and long-term solutions, such as directing more resources to address immediate needs and developing policies to tackle the underlying causes of the crisis

The global organization Mercy Corps is expanding its assistance to people in areas of northeast Nigeria previously occupied by Boko Haram and will reach more than 15,000 families by the end of the year in communities within Damboa and other locations in south Borno.

“As we’ve had better access to these areas, the level and urgency of the need we see is horrifying and demands immediate action,” says Iveta Ouvry, Mercy Corps Country Director in Nigeria. “We are working as quickly as possible to expand our ongoing delivery of food vouchers, financial assistance and water, sanitation and hygiene support.”

Many people in these communities survive by selling foraged firewood, begging or laboring for less than the equivalent of $1 per day. During an extensive needs assessment, 97 percent of people interviewed reported they could not afford to buy food in the previous four weeks. Mercy Corps also found that at least 80 percent of shelters in these areas were damaged during the recent conflict. Because of continued insecurity, farmers cannot reach the land where they cultivate food to eat and sell.

One of the few organizations in south Borno, Mercy Corps has been delivering financial and food assistance as well as repairing water points and latrines in the areas of Biu, Kwaya Kusar and Hawul. The organization also provides protection for vulnerable civilians, particularly women and children, and mobilizes and trains community members to recognize and respond to gender-based violence.

“This is not a crisis that will be solved with one silver-bullet solution,” says Ouvry. “Both international donors and governments in the region need to respond quickly with short and long-term solutions, such as directing more resources to address immediate needs and developing policies to tackle the underlying causes of the crisis. Put simply, the world cannot afford to wait another moment to take action.”

Beyond meeting urgent humanitarian needs, Mercy Corps' work in Nigeria includes mitigating conflicts, building social cohesion, connecting people to financial services and working to empower adolescent girls.

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Lynn Hector
Mercy Corps
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