ALLEVIATING POVERTY AND PREVENTING VIOLENT CONFLICT THROUGH GRANT POLICY FOR COMMUNITY-BASED NGOs IN NIGERIA
The high rate of poverty in Nigeria is an economic crucible hampering her development. This economic malaise is increasing daily: unemployment, lack of basic needs of life such as food, clothing and shelter etc.
Scarcity of economic sustenance for many years has been the major cry of the Nigerian masses which has also led to incessant conflict in our various communities where the aggrieved underprivileged have become tools for violent conflict in various communities in exchange for economic provisions.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) “2019 Poverty and Inequality in Nigeria” report, almost half of the total population of the country live below the country’s poverty line of 137,430 naira ($381.75) per year.
The NBS report is based on data from the latest round of the Nigerian Living Standards Survey, conducted in 2018-2019 with support from the World Bank’s Poverty Global Practice and technical assistance from the LSMS program.
The Nigerian Living Standards Survey (NLSS) is the approved survey, the base for measuring poverty and living standards in the country. It is also used to estimate a wide range of socio-economic indicators including benchmarking of the Sustainable Development Goals.
(World Bank, 2020) The situation is becoming alarming due to the global health crucibles that stroke in 2020, which is fast leading many nations into economic recession. Many rising businesses have closed because they could not withstand the recession.
The nation experiencing the worst scenario of extreme poverty that is leading to an increase in conflict in the nation which in turns hampers development.
The objectives of this article are: to explore the link between poverty and violent conflict in Nigeria; and to examine how the formulation of grant policy that financially empowers community-based non-governmental organisations can be synergy to poverty alleviating programme and preventing violent conflict in affected Nigerian communities.
POVERTY AND VIOLENT CONFLICT IN NIGERIA
Poverty is a condition where a person lacks the financial or economic resources to meet its needs. It is also man’s inability to own the financial resources to meet his minimum standard of living such as meeting the basic needs of life: food, clothing and shelter.
Corruption and political instability have been major causes of poverty. In a nation blessed with enough resources, almost half of its citizens still live below the poverty rate. The resultant effect has been an increase in conflicts in the nation.
Conflict in this context is a clash of economic interests concerning how a nation’s wealth should be distributed or how the wealth of a nation can trickle down to the underprivileged in society. This clash of interest could be violent or nonviolent. Violent conflict such as kidnapping, banditry; community and tribal clashes for economic control, politicized conflicts in some communities in Nigeria to win an election which is an opportunity to control economic power etc.
This type of conflict entails the use of physical force to achieve a particular goal. Nonviolent conflict is the practice of achieving goals through the peaceful measure. Such measures involve civil disobedience, strikes, protest etc. Both violent and nonviolent conflicts have become the order of the day in the nation. In this context, I would be focusing on violent conflict.
A significant body of knowledge exists on the relationship between poverty and conflict. Research has shown that low per capita income and slow economic growth drastically increase the chances that a country will experience violence. (Mercy Corps, 2011) This is typical of the Nigerian situation. The masses seem to have given up on the government, thereby devising means of achieving their goals through conflicts.
Though there is bound to be conflict in every nation, the Nigerian context seems to be going beyond the control of the government. Increase in poverty rate has led to an increase in conflicts. Several cases of conflicts in the country are traceable to poverty. To prevent further conflict, alleviating poverty should be a major focus of the government as a measure of preventing and curbing violent conflict in our communities.
GRANT POLICY FOR LOCAL NGOs AS A SYNERGY TO POVERTY ALLEVIATION PROGRAMME AND CONFLICT PREVENTION IN NIGERIA.
Public policy is the guide or framework which government has designed to directions and practices in certain problem areas. It is intended to address a particular problem at any point in time and not to solve all the problems in society.
It is a course of action by political actors to solve a particular problem. (Eneanya, 2009) Public policy is the objective guide designed by the government to tackle a major societal challenge. It is a policy devoid of egotism and nepotism in resolving a major problem confronting a nation. A major example of public policy is grant policy.
Grant is a sum of money given by the government of organisations to solve a particular challenge. Grants from the government are financial awards given to organisations to solve a societal problem. Grants are non-refundable money given by the government to the recipients, such as local NGOs, for funding projects that fosters development in a community or a nation.
Grant policy from the government is a public policy formulated by the government to give financial awards to organisations embarking on several projects that foster social, political and economic development.
The formulation of grant policy is not only key to humanitarian development in Nigeria, but also a fundamental strategy for poverty alleviation in Nigeria. It increases the financial capacity of non-governmental organisations with a focus on poverty alleviation programme to operate and liberate a large number of people in communities from poverty. Most violent conflict in Nigeria is due to the struggle for scares economic resources.
The ill-search for economic empowerment has made the masses vulnerable to mental slavery: they believe it would only take being violent to benefit from the available resources. Thus, many have taken to the street to be an instrument of war to politicians; some youth have sworn allegiance to cultism; kidnapping has been the profitable business of the day for many; engaging in a sectional and tribal conflict has become a way in which many sought to claim their economic resources.
Community-based non-governmental organisations are known to be highly effective in addressing the needs of communities in the areas of development. They possess the power of inclusiveness; the ability to use their community and social networks as resources to meet their set objectives. Their major challenge is lack of enough financial resources to carry out their humanitarian activities targeted towards achieving sustainable development in the communities.
The government needs the inputs of community-based NGOs whose major objective is community poverty alleviation or using several poverty alleviation measures in preventing and resolving conflicts in various communities in Nigeria.
Formulating a policy that would empower community-based NGOs to be receiving grants from the government would increase their capacity to function and improve their impact in their various targeted communities. Such impact is not the only measure by providing basic needs of life such as food, clothing and shelter, but measure by the ability to teach them the skills that would help them through achieving sustainable economic prosperity.
This is a good governance approach that does not only promote individual, community and national economic sustainability, but also a precursor to maintaining peace in the society.
- World Bank (2020) Nigeria releases new report on poverty and inequality in country. https://www.worldbank.org/en/programs/lsms/brief/nigeria-releases-new-report-on-poverty-and-inequality-in-country#:~:text=The%20National%20Bureau%20of%20Statistics,naira%20(%24381.75)%20per%20year.
- Mercy Corps (2011). https://www.mercycorps.org/research-resources/poverty-conflict
- Eneanya, A. N. (2009). Policy research, analysis and effective policy-making in Nigeria. Lagos: Concept Publication. p. 58.