Chain reaction: How an intervention led to women helping women in Wassa IDP Camp

THE situation in Wassa Internally Displaced Person (IDPs) camp in Abuja is that of penury and hunger, but following an intervention by some non-governmental organisations, many women in the camp have found a way to support each other through daily contributions.

Hadiza, her husband Abubakar and their two sons moved to the Wassa community over six years ago after fleeing from Mubi, a town in Northeast Nigeria, due to insurgency.

At the Wassa camp, many women are idle due to a lack of requisite skills set or start-up capital, Hadiza explained to The ICIR. 

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She added that the men many times do not earn enough to cater for the family; as such, the women have to look for ways to augment the family’s income. This she does by milling foodstuff with a grinding machine.

Hadiza Abubakar
Hadiza Abubakar milling food with her grinding machine. Photo credit: Lama Queen Godoz

“Some people came and gave us N20, 000″,  Hadiza said.

The people Hadiza was referring to are; Stand With A Girl (SWAG) Initiative, Syndani Initiative for International Development, and Peach Aid Medical Initiative (PMI), the project implemented was titled “Linking Underserved Population to Sexual and Reproductive health Services’ (LUPSS)”.

LUPSS Project
LUPSS Project in Wassa IDP Camp. Photo credit: SWAG Initiative

The founder, of SWAG Initiative Margaret Bolaji-Adegbola, told the ICIR that the intervention was aimed at strengthening community partnership to increase access to Sexual and Reproductive Health services among women and girls in the Camp by providing family planning services and menstrual cups.

Founder, SWAG Initiative
Founder, SWAG Initiative Margaret Bolaji

“Additionally, the three-point project included business grants for women and equipped the women with business tips and skills such as bookkeeping”, she said.

The criteria for the grants required that each recipient must be engaged in a trade like Hadiza, who has a grinding machine for milling.

The Women Leader for Wassa IDP camp Hafsat Hamman confirmed what Hadiza told The ICIR.

“Our biggest problem here is food. Most women have no means of livelihood and those with something to do have no capital to operate. Recently, an NGO came to our aid with business grants which were given in two batches of 40 women per set who received N20, 000 each”, she said.

Wassa IDP Camp Women Leader Hafsat Hamman
Wassa IDP Camp Women Leader Hafsat Hamman. Photo Credit: Lama Queen Godoz

“This money helped the women who got it but we are many here, over 3, 000 women. Many of us are idle, during the rains, we farm, but recently, we have been stopped from farming – we don’t know why”, she said.

According to a monitoring and evaluation report done by the SWAG Initiative after the grant was given, 26 women expanded their crafts; 15 women diversified into other ventures leading to a significant rise in profits; and 20 women engaged in skill acquisition such as making liquid soap, petroleum jelly, dusting powder, disinfectants, making caps, tailoring, knitting.

Hadiza was one of those who diversified. “I used the money to learn soap making, vaseline, dusting powder, Izal and Dettol”, she explained.

Another recipient, Kaltumi Ali makes caps commonly known as ‘Hula,’ a popular fashion statement among Northern Nigerian men, she stated that the project aided her to do better in business and improved her income.

Kaltumi Ali's Hula
Kaltumi Ali’s Hula

“I bought more materials to make caps and selling them in Abuja city brings more profit. Here (in the camp), they buy it at a low price”, she said.

Getting the grant and acquiring new skills is just one part of the solution, which raised the question of how will they sustain the now expanded businesses or skills acquired. This led the women to form an informal cooperative whereby they made daily contributions referred to as Adashe in the Hausa language and used it as soft loans.

Petroleum jelly made by Hadiza Abubakar. Photo credit: Lama Queen Godoz

Every day, each woman is expected to set-aside N200 from her business earnings, which is remitted to the group. After a week, all the contributions are given to a woman who invests it in her business. The cycle is repeated, and a different woman takes the contribution every week until it has gone a full cycle. Then the process is repeated.

 Hadiza Abubakar's deep freezer
Hadiza Abubakar’s deep freezer. Photo Credit: Lama Queen Godoz

“The money a woman gets can be up to N20,000 depending on the number of women in each set”, Hadiza who is the Adashe coordinator explained to The ICIR.

“The money makes me happy because I can help out with the bills at home from what I earn as sometimes my husband, who is a mason, doesn’t get work”, she added.

Hadiza also stated that she received N30,000 in one of the Adashe cycles; in addition to other funds, she bought a deep freezer which she uses to sell soda and water.

Hope for the underserved

The camp women leader, Hamman said the grant helped the women contribute to their families, especially in the area of feeding, as this had been a major problem before the intervention.

Apprentice of Women Leader, Hafsat Hamman
Apprentice of Women Leader, Hafsat Hamman. Photo Credit: Lama Queen Godoz

“Eighty women got the grants and we came up with the idea to do Adashe of N200 daily so that we can turn over our business money.

“We make these contributions to sustain our businesses, the Adashe is helping us – we can now help ourselves with food, support our husbands, and even add to the children’s school fees, books and other essentials”, she said.


“Among us, there are women who haven’t gotten any support and they keep asking Women Leader, how are we going to benefit from this?” Hamman told The ICIR about some of the resultant challenges from the intervention.

She said she tells the women to be patient, another intervention will come, and more women will be involved.

However, “We are happy that we can save up to N30, 000 of our own money and keep improving our business”, she added.

Wassa women with the Women Leader
Wassa women with the Women Leader. Photo Credit: Lama Queen Godoz

The ICIR learnt that only 80 out of the women in the camp benefitted from the intervention this is less than five per cent of the 3,000 women Hamman said are in the camp. As such, most women who didn’t get the grants still grapple for a means of survival.

For business women like the Adashe Coordinator Hadiza who owns a deep freezer, the struggle with lack of power supply is a challenge.

There is no power supply in Wassa IDP Camp; some residents use generators but cannot afford expensive ones, and the fuel cost and scarcity are high.

For the SWAG Initiative founder, the challenges faced include almost getting mobbed.

“In as much as we worked with the women leader, the camp leader to ensure that we are reaching out to people who need it the most. Some people still felt that they were entitled to it and didn’t get it, because it is money.

“On different occasions, we had to postpone giving the grants just to find a safe environment to distribute the grants”, she explained.



    Liquid soap made by Hadiza Abubakar
    Liquid soap made by Hadiza Abubakar. Photo Credit: Lama Queen Godoz

    Bolaji-Adegbola, said that women in business complained about the inflation, and prices of goods in the market kept rising.

    Sometimes the women return to buy the same goods at the double the price.

    “This affects their profit margin, but in all of it, most of them were able to make a profit, and we are glad that we made some impact in their community, and we continue to work with them to see other emerging issues that we can support them with”, she said.

    This story was produced in partnership with Nigeria Health Watch through the Solutions Journalism Network, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to rigorous and compelling reporting about responses to social problems.

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    1. The women in the industry are very supportive and helpful industrious. More support for them from the government will go a very long way in establishing them.
      This is a very interesting read

    2. This is honestly very impressive. The truth is the solution to starvation is doing something to get income, so many people will be willing to learn something to make a living but they don’t have access to any help. If the government or even individuals can do more of this, then I know starvation in the country will definitely reduce n at the long run eradicated👏

    3. It will be a very good initiative if the government will key into supporting these women and help them in building self employed ventures. I think that’s even one way out of poverty in Nigeria.

    4. Honestly, this is really touching. These women are strong and needs to be supported by the Government.

    5. Intervention is really going a long way with these women
      They need more support from government and private sector to keep going.

    6. This is a welcome development.
      Kudos to the initiators of the programs; now the recepients will be able to cater for their needs and that of their families.

    7. This is a good venture.
      Kudos to the initiators of these programs and those making donations towards the success of the initiative.
      At least the recepients will be able to care for themselves and their families.

    8. This is a wonderful talents exhibited by the women. All they need is financial support and encouragement from the government. They will definitely excel in this. This is amazing

    9. These women are living testimonies. An effort from the government is needed. Enlightening content.

    10. This is very Moving….. Tears almost drop from my eye, with the fact that I’m a male and man also. We can’t depend on the government, the little we have is what we use to help each other. If we can all learn to extend an helping hand according of our availables it will go a long way in helping those who doesn’t have at all

    11. These women are brave and industrious. More support is needed by them from the government. This is an enlightening content.

    12. This women are very hardworking..May God help and give them the strength.Support from the government will go along way for them

    13. This is great, individuals, organizations and government can offer assistance to help. This is a job weldone

    14. These women seem very industrious. More support for them from the government will go a very long way in establishing them.
      This is a very interesting read.


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