19-year-old Aisha Abubakar has witnessed the hardship that comes with experiencing conflict. She painfully recollects when her town Potiskum in Yobe State, north-east Nigeria was attacked years ago by insurgents:
“I remember several attacks on Potiskum, from suicide bombings to targeted ambushes. It was a terrible experience for everyone, we stayed at home all day, as we had nowhere else to go” she explained. “The result was devastating to our community. My parents lost their businesses and properties, after that, they struggled to provide for the whole family”.
One of the detrimental consequences of the conflict that has struck north-east Nigeria since 2009 has been the loss of livelihood opportunities for millions of people. Individuals and families have struggled to make ends meet, which has left communities dependent on humanitarian aid for means of survival.
The challenges faced by the Potiskum community poses a vital need to support its recovery, warranting a strong focus on providing youth, like Aisha, sustainable livelihood opportunities and assistance. In response, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in collaboration with the Yobe State Emergency Management Agency (YOSEMA) and the Government of Japan, launched a programme targeting social stability and security efforts for youth inconflict-affected communities in both the north-east and Middle Belt of Nigeria.
Aisha is one of the 125 youth in Potiskum selected to participate in an eight-week training on relevant community trades such as tailoring, cosmetology, leather production, knitting and catering. Upon completion of the programme, youth then receive a cash grant to either help them setup a new business or to help support an existing venture.
Cosmetology was Aisha’s trade of choice, and now she is the proud owner of Nazeefat Product, a company that sells perfumed petroleum jelly:
“Ever since I launched my company in late 2021, I have sold over 300 perfumed petroleum jelly products” Aisha shared proudly. “With the profits made, I have been able to have enough money to attend nursing school, as well as help my parents provide for the family”.
The active engagement of youth in development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive and stable communities. This social stability and security support provided by the YOSEMA, UNDP, and the Government of Japan, aims to empower communities, especially youth, by providing them the opportunity to not only learn and grow by gaining new critical livelihood skills but also allows them to support the revival of the economic system in their communities.
Aisha hopes to continue to work towards expanding her shop and production house as she plans on growing her business in the future. As she begins to open her shop for the day, she shares “Opportunities like this are rare. I plan to take what I’ve learned to empower and train more young girls in my community and hope that my journey can becomes an inspiration to others too ”.