Victims Support Fund is a humanitarian organization established to take care of victims of terrorism and violence across Nigeria.
I first read about their work in a journal I found online while working on a research about the effects of violence and the sustenance of peace and redevelopment in war-torn regions across Africa. I have always been interested in researching the aftermath situation of terrorism and violence on affected communities, especially in Nigeria.
One might not be able to do much. However, it is worrisome how difficult it is for victims to pick up pieces of their lives from the ashes of ruins and start all over again with almost nothing. Pondering this actually gears me to appreciate the efforts of the VSF in helping victims overcome their travails, reintegrate into the society and even become part of the nation’s economy.
The organization, whose objective is to identify sources and ways of raising sustainable funding to support victims of Boko Haram terror activities among other objectives, have embarked on so many outreach programmes since it’s inception till date.
The Victim Support Fund has been able to impact the lives of victims of the widespread violence that has plagued the North Eastern region of Nigeria for some years. Part of some of the achievements of the organization are;
- Economic empowerment for victims of terrorism (women)
- Educational support for terror-affected and displaced children
- Psycho-social support for people affected by terrorism
- Facilitation of foster programming for children orphaned by terrorism
- Support for over-stretched hospitals to provide free treatment to victims of terrorism
- Critical assessment of state of insurgency in the Nigeria
- Socio–Economic analysis of the impact of insurgency on the victims
In order to get a deeper insight into the functionality of the organization, its Programme Department had in late December 2017 presented its programme plan for 2018. The operational plan covers the VSF programme focus and projected programme delivery, outcomes and results across the thematic areas of intervention.
The 2018 programme plan is essentially structured on completing and scaling up on the accomplishments of the 2017 programme deliverable.
In addition to targeting more beneficiaries and communities for intervention, the VSF set out in 2018 to leverage on the already existing strong partnership with key government agencies and other nongovernmental organisations to broaden its thematic focus to include skill acquisition programmes for the vulnerable youths and male adult victims of the insurgency.
The implementation of the programme plan for 2018 is also carefully conceived around interventions that encourage and facilitate return to recovered communities. The implementation modalities also focus on complementing one VSF project on another in some communities for value addition and broadening of intervention outcomes and impact.
Below, are highlights of key activities and accomplishments of the VSF in recent times;
Education Support Project
- Teacher Training: (17) master trainers were trained on classroom management, pedagogy and psycho-social support.
- Capacity building project: capacity building project for 500 classroom teachers in the Nine (9) project LGAs
- Distribution of Educational Materials and classroom facilities to schools in the northeast
- Reconstruction of damaged classrooms and provision of WASH facilities in Schools in Northern Adamawa and Southern Borno states
- Protection Project
- Monitoring of Households and provision of lay counseling (PSS):
- Monthly Financial Support to Households, Child Protection Committee (CPCs) and Community Volunteers
Livelihood and Recovery Project
- Established 200 functional savings and loans women groups
- Developed comprehensive agricultural programme for the North East
- Organized inception workshop for the 2018 agricultural programme implementation in the North East
- Procured agricultural inputs and machinery (Mini Tractors, Water pumps, Sprayers, Liquid Fertilizers,
- Pesticides, Insecticides, Herbicides and Seeds) for distribution to 7000 small holder farmers
- Distributed agricultural inputs (Sprayers, Liquid Fertilizers, Pesticides, Insecticides, Herbicides and Seeds) to 4000 beneficiary small holder farmers for rain-fed farming
- Organized Conflict Analysis Workshop.
- Impact conflict analysis skills to key stakeholders in the northeast
- Assessment of conflict issues in insurgency affected communities
Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Project
- Assessment of communities affected by the insurgency
- Training of CSOs and field officers on Mobile Data Questionnaire. application
- Commencement of the VSF/NDA research project on the critical perspective of the Boko Haram Insurgency in the northeast.
- Development of M & E Framework and Review Processes for Tracking and Monitoring of Programmes
- Procurement/ programming of VSF customized biometric handheld devices
- Upgrade of VSF Data Management System
- Development of mobile Data Collection Software for questionnaires administration
Grants, Collaboration, Linkages and Partnership
- Analysed the 2016/2017 CSOs and made recommendation for re-engagement for 2018
- Signed grants agreement with 23 CSOs implementing the 2018 VSF interventions across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe State
- Monitoring, collation and on-site verification of 2017 project implementation reports across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
- Conducted project start-up capacity building for 2018 implementing CSOs across Adamawa, Borno and Yobe States.
- Built the capacity of NDA’s team on VSF reporting requirements and standards
- Designed, Customized and sent out the 2018 reporting templates to the partners
- Reconciled the Educational Support CSOs account, requested for the 2nd tranche and signed addendum for extension of the project duration
- Designed, Customized and sent out the 2018 reporting templates to the partners
- Development of VSF Grants Management Policies and Procedures
The organization through its livelihood and recovery project, on Thursday 25th October 2018 flagged-off its dry season farming intervention in Yunusari Local Government Area Yobe State.
This intervention aims to administer appropriate support to victims of insurgency and facilitate the restoration of livelihood through economic empowerment of households in the Northeast. The VSF agro-based intervention provides agricultural inputs which include: mini tractors, water pumps, improved varieties of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and sprayers.
The dry-season farming programme will improve household nutrition and also engender financial independence for victims who have returned to their communities. A total of three thousand 3000 households will receive agricultural inputs across the three most affected states of Borno Adamawa and Yobe.
Also, in furtherance of its commitment to economic empowerment for victims of terrorism in North East Nigeria, Victims Support Fund distributed Borno Brown breeder goats to beneficiaries at Babban Gida Tarmuwa LGA of Yobe state. At least, 1200 goats were given to 300 households.
From my personal research which I did to help me understand the specificity of the reason behind the choice of the Borno Brown, I was able to deduce that the Borno Brown Goat is the most important goat breed in Nigeria, accounting for about 70% of the estimated 34.5 million goats in Nigeria. It is the most widespread and well-known type in Nigeria. It is the usual village goat in the Northern two-thirds of the country.
The importance of goats as providers around the world of essential food in meat and dairy products has been discussed and documented in many recent proceedings of national and international conferences.
This importance is also reflected in the largest animal number increase for goats during the last 20 years (FAO, 2001) and the largest increase in goat milk production tonnage compared to other mammalian farm animals.
Milk production of goats is likely to be much greater than in these official statistics, because of the large amounts of unreported home consumption, especially in developing countries.
Also, information was published on the milk yield and composition of Nigerian goats (Borno Brown) and the result obtained was compared with standard figures for European goats. These factors show the economic benefits of breeding goats and the consideration of these factors informed VSF’s decision to distribute 1,200 goats to 300 households in Babban Gida Tarmuwa LGA of Yobe state.
The economic benefits cannot be over-emphasized.
Considering how fast the Borno Brown Goat breeds, it is the most suitable specie of goats meant for breeding. Victims of insurgency in that area can now become breeders & also become a contributory & beneficial part of a growing economy.
Each beneficiary household received 1 buck (male goat) & 3 does (female goats). The outreach was enacted this way, so that each household will be capable of breeding at least 6 offspring from the female goats twice a year. Thereby, breeding 12 new goats in one year.
I wish to commend the VSF in its continued work to restore hope to victims of insurgency through promoting education for children through the provision of learning materials, introduction of foster care programmes for orphaned children, providing psycho-social support for women and children, economic empowerment for women, strengthening health systems to cater for the medical needs of victims, reconstruction of public buildings and peace building advocacy.
Dikachim Eze is a Terrorism and Violence Researcher. He writes from Lagos.