SDG’s and the Fight Against Poverty in the North (Part 1)
By Yusuf Aliyu
AREWA AGENDA – Northern Nigeria is believed to be the poorest region in the country, with factors such as insurgency, banditry, lack of western education in the rural areas, in addition to the Almajiri system among other factors.
These factors play a major role in making the region poor. Though during the turn of the mellenium, specifically between 2000 – 2015, we have seen significant improvement through the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs. The emergence of Sustainable Drvelopment Goals, SDGs in 2015 means another opportunity for northern Nigeria to tackle poverty.
We can tackle poverty through achieving the SDGs in northern Nigeria with the following concepts. (I will take each goal and provide some concept (s) for it.
GOAL 1&2: END POVERTY AND HUNGER
The North accounted for 87 per cent of all the poor people in Nigeria with more than half of the poor people from the north western states. According to estimates provided by the International Displacement Monitoring Centre, there were more than two million internally displaced persons in Nigeria as of 31 December 2018 due to conflicts and disasters. With lack of human capital development in the north, people from the region are more vulnerable to falling to poverty. So how do we tackle these? Through providing and sustaining all developmental agendas in the region. We must provide human capital initiatives for our growing young people, provide quality and sustainable education through building infrastructures and creating sustainable policies.
Despite producing large amount of food we consume in Nigeria, the country’s lack of food security is due to prevailing poverty rate in northern part of the country. Farmers are not able to produce enough to feed their families, bringing hunger statistics rate to 13.40% in 2017 an increase of 1.9% from 2016 (with significant research showing greater increase in early 2020). Achieving food security through producing enough food to feed the region with help in tackling poverty.
GOAL 3&4: GOOD HEALTH AND QUALITY EDUCATION
COVID19 has exposed how rotten our healthcare and educational systems have is already. As far as the SDG goes, Northern Nigeria cannot afford to be left behind and so government at all level must provide infrastructure and develop policies aimed at providing good health and quality education in the region.
72% of the out of school children are from northern Nigeria. Girl child should be allowed to complete up to SS3. Rural communities should get access to clean and affordable water to avoid heath crises. Provision of social amenities to both urban and rural communities will also reduce health crises. Furthermore, healthcare amenities should be top priority of Northern governors and also Civil Society Organizations, CSOs and Non Governmental Organizations, NGOs, must ensure that government spending are accounted for. In addition, Philanthropists across northern states should support in building and providing health and education facilities.
Traditional and religious leaders should collaborate in creating awareness to rural communities on the importance of good hygiene and providing education. Also, as the region with highest number of legislative representative, legislators should sponsor more meaningful bills that will help in tackling poverty, insurgency, social development and other conflict related issues.
GOAL 5: GENDER EQUALITY
Gender inequality in northern Nigeria is influenced mostly by Socio Cultural beliefs. Women are seen as subordinate to men as it is a general perception that they are best suited as house keepers. To achieve gender equality (rather equity) in northern Nigeria, girl child must be allowed to go to school up to SS3 at least and be given a chance to participate in decision making in the community.
Early child marriage has proven to be a poverty cause. With most northern states yet to enact the child right act into law, girl child are given into marriage in an early age with no education or any other skills to help her build a sustainable future. Early child marriage is what causes vesicovaginal fistula or VVF which continues to be a health crises in northern Nigeria. To avoid child marriage, girl child should be allowed to go to school just like the male counterpart, they should also be encouraged to learn skills and some vocational work.
The abolishment of Almajiri system by northern governors will be a great turn in eradicating poverty and achieving equality. Government and NGOs working around the almajiri must make sure that this children are provided with good health and quality education, also providing the necessary social amenities to their environment. Most of these almajiris comes from the rural part of the states, with no good medical centers, no good schools, no affordable and clean water and worst still, no modern equipment for what they are good at (farming). Government must as a matter of fact do the needful and equip them appropriately.
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