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The Violent Road: Efforts to tackle violence in Nigeria

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Efforts to tackle armed violence

Countless responses to curb violence are underway throughout Nigeria, including the deployment of government security forces, informal mediation by traditional and religious leaders, grassroots-level early warning systems and NGO education and advocacy work.

Yet, because of Nigeria’s sheer size, its large population and a chronic scarcity of data, these efforts are poorly understood. Little is known about the existing actors and their interventions against armed violence throughout the country’s 36 states and Abuja Federal Capital Territory. Successful initiatives are rarely reported to or shared with other regions, leading to missed opportunities to expand difference-making efforts nationally. To tackle armed violence in Nigeria, however, it is crucial to have a clear picture of the actors and practices currently in operation in this area, and to facilitate the spread of their most effective policies and programmes across the country.

To get a better idea of “who does what” in the prevention and reduction of armed violence, National Working Group on Armed Violence, (NWGAV) and Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) mapped 457 organisations and 495 projects working against armed violence, and identified the legislation under which they operate. The aim was to contribute to a fuller understanding of current efforts to combat armed violence, and to help improve coordination among those involved in reducing armed violence.

The database is searchable and contains information on:

  • Expertise of organisations: Mission, thematic priorities and type of activity
  • Institutional capacities: Staff strength, geographical coverage, annual budget, main funders
  • Gender: of head of organisations and employees
  • Projects: Type of violence addressed, scope and scale, monitoring and evaluation practices

Civil society working in Nigeria

Out of the 457 organisations surveyed the largest share – 281 organisations – was from civil society. Figure 4 shows the proportions of the different types of stakeholders surveyed. The higher number of respondents gives a better picture of civil society organisational capacities and the projects implemented by them. This section highlights findings for 242 NGOs and faith-based organisations, without taking into account community-based organisations.

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Organisations interviewed

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Year of foundation

Organisational capacities

Most civil society organisations recorded came into being in the last two decades. While a limited number of civil society initiatives existed during the country’s turbulent past and under military regimes, there was a marked increase in the 1990s, and a wave of new organisations after 1999 when Nigeria’s new constitution was adopted.

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Left: Geographical coverage, (n=241) / Right: Percentage of NGOs and faith-based organisations by annual budget, in million naira (n=196)

Half of the organisations interviewed operate on less than 4 million naira annually, and three quarters work with less than 15 million naira. The overall national median is 3.8 million naira per year. The majority of the organisations mapped say they work either at state level or at national level.

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Left: NGOs and faith-based organisations by number of full time staff (n=241) / Right: NGOs and faith-based organisations by number of volunteers (n=241)

Across Nigeria, civil society organisations tend to work with rather small numbers of full-time staff – the most frequent number of employees is between six and ten. The national median is seven full-time employees. Many of them, specifically in non-urban areas, work with larger numbers of volunteers, sometimes twice that of paid staff. The civil society organisations mapped employ a median number of 12 volunteers.