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The 2 Women Entrepreneurs Tackling Maternal Mortality in Nigeria (Devex)

Adepeju Jaiyeoba, a lawyer by training, created a simple, low-cost Mother’s Delivery Kit targeted to low-income, rural communities who may not be able to afford institutional care or do not have access to any. Photo by: Brown Button Foundation

LAGOS, Nigeria — Lebabatu Musa has been delivering babies for 13 years in Kafur, a village in Northwestern Nigeria’s Katsina state. Her work is complicated by the fact that hospitals in the area don’t always have the necessary equipment to treat their patients, nor the personnel to offer additional trainings to staff.

The use of condoms as a form of birth control, for example, was a practice Musa was unfamiliar with until a recent training offered by a local foundation. It wasn’t a topic she had been taught in school, she told Devex, and although condoms are sometimes available in her community, their use has not been advocated for by the hospitals or community health centers she has worked in.

Musa studied for three years at a school for health and nursing in Malumfashi to become a community health worker, but “there are no doctors in our schools, only health personnel,” Musa shared of her training.

As a result of inadequate health facilities and a lack of skilled personnel, 814 women will die for every 100,000 live births in Nigeria, according to a 2015 estimate from the World Health Organization.

Presently, less than 20 percent of health facilities offer emergency obstetric care and only 35 percent of deliveries are attended by skilled birth attendants. In Katsina, where Musa works, 5.1 percent of women were delivering their children in facilities in 2008, according to data from the United Kingdom government-funded, country-led Maternal and Newborn Child Health Programme. In 2017, the number had risen to 20.8 percent. Still, women across Nigeria’s densely populated northern region choose to give birth at home with the help of a traditional birth attendant.

Adepeju Jaiyeoba and Temie Giwa-Tubosun, two entrepreneurs who faced complications in their own pregnancies, are now leveraging technology to address the gaps in skills and resources that cost many new mothers their lives across the West African country.

Drawing on their personal experience, hyperlocal knowledge, and relying on simple innovations, the two women are determined to increase the odds of survival for new mothers, whether in urban Lagos or rural Zamfara.

The loss of a friend, and the birth of a low-cost delivery kit

Seven years ago, Jaiyeoba’s family friend opted to deliver her baby at Obafemi Awolowo University’s reputable teaching hospital in Southwestern Nigeria. The delivery would be safe, she thought, since the university is known for producing some of the most respected medical doctors in the country. But the young mother bled to death after a graduate doctor severed an artery while conducting a cesarean procedure and failed to take immediate action to repair it.

In response, Jaiyeoba, a lawyer by training, created a simple, low-cost Mother’s Delivery Kit targeted to low-income, rural communities who may not be able to afford institutional care or do not have access to any. This delivery kit helps women like Musa — community health workers and traditional birth attendants who are often the sole health care provider in rural areas — to deliver babies safely and hygienically. The kit is currently distributed to rural communities in 30 out of Nigeria’s 36 states.

Now, it’s Jaiyeoba’s own experience that drives her. While pregnant, she sought care at an expensive Lagos-based hospital to find out why she was tired, weak, and experiencing dizzy spells. She was told her blood pressure was low and given supplements to take. Jaiyeoba’s symptoms didn’t improve, and she would later find out on a medical trip to the United States that in fact, the iron supplements sold to her at a local Nigerian pharmacy recommended by the hospital were fake.

The Mother’s Delivery Kit — which costs 1,700 Nigerian naira ($4.74) but is provided for free to health workers during trainings — contains misoprostol, a life-saving pill used to prevent bleeding rather than control it. It also carries a mucus extractor used to prevent asphyxia in newborns. Adhesive pads are included in order to control bleeding temporarily in the event a woman needs to be transferred to a facility.

“With the kits, we have been able to not only encourage, but create behavioral change,” Jaiyeoba said in an interview at her Lagos home.

Before the kit, birth attendants in rural communities would attend to women on reused plastic sheets, for example, and then attempt to disinfect them with warm water and salt. Unknowingly, the practice put their next clients at risk of infection. The kit has provided an alternative in the form of a stark white, absorbent delivery mat, which stains immediately after use so attendants aren’t tempted to recycle it, Jaiyeoba said.

Alongside the Mothers’ Delivery Kit Jaiyeoba created, which was funded through grants from organizations such as the United States African Development Foundation, she also set up the Brown Button Foundation to train women on how to use the kit and any other skills they might be lacking. Brown Button also improves access to more formal health care by encouraging health workers to refer cases beyond their capacity to better-qualified facilities when the option exists, Jaiyeoba said.

Jaiyeoba’s work has not been without resistance or roadblocks. Given the religious, conservative nature of many rural Nigerian communities, she must first seek approval for her work from male members of the community. She is also often caught in competing political interests of different agencies or local government authorities — from which she must also seek approval — who seek to stake ownership of the work. For instance, a state health board and a local government chairman may delay launch because of a disagreement of who will present to the people, Jaiyeoba explained.

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Drones for Development (Georgetown University)

Drones are everywhere these days. From the spectacle of Amazon-owned delivery drones at South by Southwest to the use of these devices by Hollywood producers to capture aerial footage, drones present a variety of opportunities for businesses, military officials, and civil society (there’s even such a thing as droneboarding: getting towed by a drone while on a snowboard or wakeboard). However, there is another realm of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that is far less talked about: drones for social good. Drones present a tremendous opportunity to revolutionize the international development sphere and scale social impact in a number of ways. In fact, people around the world, from small communities in northern Guatemala to large metropolitan areas in Central Africa, are already implementing drone use into their daily lives.

Frederick Mbuya, for example, is a consultant at the World Bank who works on open data and is using drones to improve traffic congestion in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In a rapidly expanding city with poor infrastructure, traffic can cause tremendous economic costs and safety hazards. Drones provide data through aerial imagery and large scale topographic surveys, which helps government officials prevent traffic jams, avert citizens from entering flooded areas, and design safer, more effective transportation infrastructure. Mbuya is very hopeful of the technology’s potential, explaining that a $2000 drone can produce a dataset worth $50,000 in the hands of city planners.

Although this example is still in its embryonic stage, the application of drones for international development extends far beyond traffic in Tanzania. Innovators are offering ideas to use drones to deliver vital emergency supplies to previously inaccessible areas, produce video reports during disasters to coordinate relief-efforts, and track drought patterns to improve farming practices. Private companies, like Matternet and Flirtey, are using drones to deliver everything from building supplies and food to medicine and biological samples. Zipline International recently partnered with the government of Rwanda to use its fixed-wing cargo drones to deliver medical supplies to remote health clinics in the East African Nation, proving the efficacy of public-private partnerships in leveraging drone potential.

While there are countless uses for drones in the international development sphere, particularly for logistical support, mapping, and monitoring, national and local governments are not always receptive to the new technology: Nigerian drone permits cost over $4000, Zimbabwe regulations prohibit drone-use for delivery, and Uganda restricts drone importation. Security and privacy concerns tend to dominate the subject of unmanned robotics, often prompting new legislation that severely hinders the potential of drones for social good.

As drone technology continues to evolve and as innovators and government officials find new ways to utilize them, it is important to provide clarity in these applications so that nations can make the most informed decisions when issuing drone legislation. Similarly, enabling local capacity for UAVs in developing nations can increase communities’ willingness to use them, in tandem with effective, constantly updated regulations to ensure that these drones are put to use ethically and safely.

Kay Wachwitz, CEO & Founder of Drone Industry Insights, recently explained that “the drone industry as a whole is moving forward — the process itself will create opportunities for operators and organizations across the world that want to leverage the technology.” While the hype around drones for entertainment purposes is certainly well-deserved, the truly ground-breaking opportunities lie in their ability to drastically transform the way private and public actors can help their communities. If we look beyond speedy Amazon deliveries, international spying capabilities, and SuperBowl light shows, we’ll find a multitude of ways that drones are already doing social good. They are changing our world for the better, and there are still many more opportunities to be discovered.

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The Start of a New Poverty Narrative (Brookings Institute)

Source: Authors’ estimates based on PovCal (World Bank), World Economic Outlook (IMF); World Population Prospects (UN); Shared Socio-Economic Pathways (IIASA), World Income Inequality Database (UNU-WIDER); Algorithm developed by World Data Lab

Last September, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation released its annual
Goalkeeper’s report, highlighting the extraordinary progress made in reducing extreme poverty around the world, while also warning that sustaining this progress would not be easy.

We now have the first actual data points that ring the alarm bells about a new, unfolding story on global poverty reduction that is far less favorable than pieces such as Nick Kristof’s New York Times column
“Why 2017 was the best year in human history.” These new data are available courtesy of the
World Poverty Clock, a web tool produced by World Data Lab with which the three of us are associated. (A paper presenting the methodology underpinning the World Poverty Clock has been published by Nature’s Palgrave Communications journal.)

Each April and October, the World Poverty Clock data are updated to take into account new household surveys (an additional 97 surveys were made available this April) and new projections on country economic growth from the International Monetary Funds’s World Economic Outlook. These form the basic building blocks for poverty trajectories computed for 188 countries and territories, developed and developing, across the world.

The data highlight two new storylines about what is happening to global extreme poverty.

FIRST: EXTREME POVERTY IN TODAY’S WORLD IS LARGELY ABOUT AFRICA

According to our projections, Nigeria has already overtaken India as the country with the largest number of extreme poor in early 2018, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo could soon take over the number 2 spot (Figure 1 below). At the end of May 2018, our trajectories suggest that Nigeria had about 87 million people in extreme poverty, compared with India’s 73 million. What is more, extreme poverty in Nigeria is growing by six people every minute, while poverty in India continues to fall. In fact, by the end of 2018 in Africa as a whole, there will probably be about 3.2 million more people living in extreme poverty than there are today.

Already, Africans account for about two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor. If current trends persist, they will account for nine-tenths by 2030. Fourteen out of 18 countries in the world—where the number of extreme poor is rising—are in Africa.

SECOND: IT IS BECOMING INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE SDG 1 (ENDING POVERTY)

Between January 1, 2016—when implementation of internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) started—and July 2018, the world has seen about 83 million people escape extreme poverty. But if extreme poverty were to fall to zero by 2030, we should have already reduced the number by about 120 million, just assuming a linear trajectory. To get rid of this backlog of some 35 million people, we now have to rapidly step up the pace.

This notwithstanding, the fundamental dynamics of global extreme poverty reduction are clear. Given a starting point of about 725 million people in extreme poverty at the beginning of 2016, we needed to reduce poverty by 1.5 people every second to achieve the goal and yet we’ve been moving at a pace of only 1.1 people per second. Given that we’ve fallen behind so much, the new target rate has just increased to 1.6 people per second through 2030. At the same time, because so many countries are falling behind, the actual pace of poverty reduction is starting to slow down. Our projections show that by 2020, the pace could fall to 0.9 people per second, and to 0.5 people per second by 2022.

As we fall further behind the target pace, the task of ending extreme poverty by 2030 is becoming inexorably harder because we are running out of time. We should celebrate our achievements, but increasingly sound the alarm that not enough is being done, especially in Africa.

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Why China’s Footprint in Africa Worries the US (CNN)

From the article:

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched China’s One Belt, One Road strategy, which centers on pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into ports, rail lines and other projects across Asia, Europe and Africa.

The costs of the program are astronomical, but China hopes it will spur demand for Chinese goods overseas and expand China’s influence in global affairs.

Critics, however, maintain the program has saddled developing countries with crippling debts and increased their dependence on China.

In a recent study, the Center for Global Development identified eight countries as particularly vulnerable to debt under One Belt, One Road, including Djibouti — a country in the Horn of Africa that Tillerson visited Friday and where China is building its first permanent overseas military base.

The report notes that Djibouti’s public external debt in the last two years has increased from 50 to 85 percent of its gross domestic product, according to recent data from the International Monetary Fund, and much of that comes from China.

Read the full article here.

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Why Africa’s Poor Pay High Prices (The Economist)

From the article:

“WE FEEL so hungry,” says Agatha Khasiala, a Kenyan housekeeper, grumbling about the price of meat and fish. She has recently moved in with her daughter because “the cost of everything is very high”. The data back her up. The World Bank publishes rough estimates of price levels in different countries, showing how far a dollar would stretch if converted into local currency. On this measure, Kenya is more expensive than Poland.

This is surprising. The cost of living is generally higher in richer places, a phenomenon best explained by the economists Bela Balassa and Paul Samuelson. They distinguished between goods that can be traded internationally and many services, like hairdressing, that cannot. In rich countries, manufacturing is highly productive, allowing firms to pay high wages and still charge internationally competitive prices. Those high wages also drive up pay in services, which must compete for workers. Since productivity is low in services, high pay translates into high prices, pushing up the overall cost of living.

Among developing economies, however, the relationship between prices and prosperity is less clear-cut. Prices in Chad, for instance, are comparable to those in Malaysia, where incomes are 14 times higher. Fadi Hassan of Trinity College Dublin finds that in the poorest fifth of countries, most of them in Africa, the relationship goes into reverse: penniless places cost more than slightly richer ones. A paper in 2015 from the Centre for Global Development (CGD), an American think-tank, accounts for various factors which could explain differences in prices, including state subsidies, geography and the effects of foreign aid. Even then, African countries are puzzlingly expensive.

One explanation is dodgy statistics. African countries may be richer than they seem. When Nigeria revised its figures in 2014 to start counting industries such as mobile phones, GDP almost doubled. They may also be less pricey than economists reckon, because poor people buy second-hand clothes or grow their own food.

A more intriguing explanation comes from food prices. The relative cost of food, compared with other goods, is higher in poor countries.

Read the full article here.

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What the US National Security Strategy Says About Global Development

WASHINGTON — The new United States National Security Strategy, released Monday, outlines a U.S.-centric development policy that prioritizes working with countries aligned with U.S. interests, calls for countering China’s influence, views development as a tool for U.S. security and puts private sector activity at the fore.

The strategy puts in writing what U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Mark Green has been saying in speeches since he took the position: That “the purpose of U.S. foreign assistance should be to end the need for it,” that U.S. foreign assistance will not promote dependency, and that it will prioritize working with countries, or “aspiring partners” as it puts it, that are aligned with U.S. interests.

“U.S. development assistance must support America’s national interests,” the strategy document says. “The United States will promote a development model that partners with countries that want progress, consistent with their culture, based on free market principles, fair and reciprocal trade, private sector activity, and rule of law,” it reads. “We will emphasize reforms that unlock the economic potential of citizens, such as the promotion of formal property rights, entrepreneurial reforms, and infrastructure improvements — projects that help people earn their livelihood and have the added benefit of helping U.S. businesses.”

The policy states that the U.S. expects other nations to share responsibility, but says that it will remain “a generous nation.”

Here’s a look at what the new strategy says about some key development issues.

A focus on the private sector and economic growth

The U.S. can play a “catalytic role in promoting private sector-led economic growth,” to create future partners in trade and security.

The strategy points to the Marshall Plan and U.S. support in South Korea and Japan as examples of where U.S. aid effectively helped countries build their economies and become key markets for U.S. goods and strategic allies, and suggests using that as a model for effective foreign assistance.

“Some of the greatest triumphs of American statecraft resulted from helping fragile and developing countries become successful societies,” the strategy says.

The U.S. will mobilize public and private resources to maximize returns and outcomes, the policy says, while also reducing the “burden” on government resources.

“American-led investments represent the most sustainable and responsible approach to development and offer a stark contrast to the corrupt, opaque, exploitive, and low-quality deals offered by authoritarian states,” the policy states.

Competing with China

The strategy makes clear that this administration, like the last, sees China as a considerable threat, and that foreign aid will be used in part to counter China’s push for global influence.

“Today, the United States must compete for positive relationships around the world. China and Russia target their investments in the developing world to expand influence and gain competitive advantages against the United States,” the strategy reads. It goes on to say that China is investing billions in infrastructure around the world and that the U.S. “provides an alternative to state-directed investments, which often leave developing countries worse off.”

The policy highlights China’s role in Africa, where it has expanded its economic and military presence to become the continent’s largest trading partner, according to the strategy.

“Some Chinese practices undermine Africa’s long-term development by corrupting elites, dominating extractive industries, and locking countries into unsustainable and opaque debts and commitments,” the strategy says.

The U.S. seeks economic ties for market access and to create lasting relationships around common political and security concerns, and would like to see African nations integrated into the world economy, that can provide for their citizens, and manage security threats.

Development finance

As the administration has already announced, it is committed to modernizing its development finance tools. In this strategy, it says the motivation is “so that U.S. companies have incentives to capitalize on opportunities in developing countries.” Development finance will also be used as a tool to make the U.S. competitive with other countries for global influence, and remove any obstacles for U.S. companies wanting to do business in the developing world.

Ray Washburne, the chief executive officer of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. development finance institution released a statement alongside the strategy saying that it “rightly recognizes the power of mobilizing private capital in advancing our foreign policy and enhancing American influence” and that the agency looks forward to working with others in government to create a stronger, more modern development finance institution.

What’s the future of U.S. aid and development policy under the Trump administration? Read Devex news and analysis.

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Global Development: What You Need to Know

Global development lacks a clear definition, but it is often linked with human development and international efforts to reduce poverty and inequality and improve health, education and job opportunities around the world.

A variety of data can be used to describe what is also often referred to as international development, including a country’s gross domestic product or its average per-capita income, literacy and maternal survival rates, as well as life expectancy, human rights and political freedoms.

While humanitarian aid and disaster relief are meant to provide short-term fixes to emergencies, international development is meant to be long-term and sustainable.

For years, global development was driven by the United States and other industrialized countries in Europe and beyond. Now, we may be on the verge of a transformative change – the transition to a multipolar world economic order.

That’s what two World Bank economists suggest. By 2025, they predict, six emerging economies — Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Russia — will collectively account for about half of global growth. This shift will have wide-ranging consequences on the international monetary system, North-South relations, and security and stability around the globe.

Already, many developing countries appear to be recovering better from recent global financial and economic turmoil. Foreign investment in Africa has surpassed foreign aid to the continent. People in the Middle East and elsewhere are demanding political reforms to boost the economy and availability of jobs.

As emerging economies grow, so will their private sector companies’ influence on global business, and it may become necessary to rethink global economic governance structures through multilateral channels such as the World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund and other Bretton Woods institutions. Financial, monetary and trade policy reforms may be needed to ensure sustainable growth.

Meanwhile, the international community is expected to continue pushing the ambitious development agenda outlined in 2000 in the U.N. Millennium Declaration.

Great strides have already been made – in fact, over the past five decades, there has been more progress on global health and poverty reduction than ever before. The number of people living in extreme poverty (meaning, on less than $1.25 per day) fell from 1.8 billion in 1990 to 1.4 billion in 2005, according to the World Bank. Child mortality has decreased and access to clean water increased; the number of new HIV infections has fallen 21 percent since its peak in 1997.

At the same time, achieving universal primary education by 2015 remains elusive, and so do other Millennium Development Goals. And while the majority of people in the developing world are living more prosperous lives now than they did before, many are worse off – people who Oxford University Economics Professor Paul Collier refers to as the “bottom billion.” Freedom and human rights are lacking in many parts of the world, as institutions such as Freedom House and the United Nations point out.

International cooperation and development aid remain catalysts for global development, whether the assistance comes through debt relief, budget support, technical assistance or impact investing. The global development community – multilateral and bilateral donors, foundations, nonprofits, companies, consultants, advocates and entrepreneurs – work at the forefront of this cause: to boost worldwide prosperity and ensure sustainable development.

Source: https://www.devex.com/news/global-development-what-you-need-to-know-74999

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EU Announces €143 Million Support Package for the Crisis in North East Nigeria

The European Commission has announced a support package of €143 million today for the early recovery and reconstruction needs in Borno State in Nigeria which is suffering from a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Nigeria is one of four countries across the globe experiencing or at risk of famine this year, along with Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. The package combines short term EU humanitarian aid with long term development support to help those in the affected area, which has been devastated by the terror campaign of Boko Haram. This reflects the Commission’s strategic approach to resilience, which was presented a week ago.

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, made the following announcement today: “Our support package of €143 million will assist approximately 1.3 million internally displaced people and affected communities in and around the Borno State in Nigeria. Our assistance will not only target the immediate needs of the people but, it will also help to restore basic services, stimulate employment and create livelihood opportunities, particularly for women and young people”.

Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides added: “The European Union is committed to get lifesaving aid to those in need in Nigeria. Emergency aid can help them but to do so aid organisations need safe and full access to do their job. We also need to think about the long term affects and how to help communities recover. I have visited the country several times and seen the suffering caused by the victims of terrorism but also the strength and determination of the local people to rebuild their lives. It is this desire to rebuild a better future that the EU will support.”

This brings total EU support for the crisis in Nigeria’s Borno state to €224.5 million for 2017, following earlier announcements of €81.5 million in humanitarian aid.

In line with its strategic approach to resilience, the European Commission is providing a comprehensive package of humanitarian and development measures for the crisis in Nigeria. EU support will provide immediate humanitarian assistance for the most vulnerable populations affected by the ongoing emergency situation, as well as for early recovery and restoration of basic services, such as health, nutrition, education, water access, sanitation and hygiene, solar power, in areas of return or resettlement. Furthermore, it will provide social protection, stimulate employment and livelihood opportunities, with a special focus on women, young people and vulnerable households. By strengthening public administration and financial management systems in the Borno State, it will help improve sustainable public service delivery, crisis management and coordination of related donor activities.

Background

The €143 million announced today consists of development aid of €123 million from the Nigeria 11th European Development Fund National Indicative Programme and €20 million from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. It comes in addition to the previously announced €81.5 million in humanitarian funding.

It is further in addition to €177 million in development assistance from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, which was recently allocated to support 17 projects in and around the Lake Chad area.

Borno crisis in Nigeria

Nigeria faces one of the worst humanitarian crises in its history over five million people in need of urgent food assistance. A large proportion of the Borno population has little or no access to clean water, sanitation, shelter, education, primary health care (60% of health infrastructure is either destroyed or damaged), and is food insecure.

There are an estimated 1.7 million internally displaced persons, the majority, living in and around the urban area of Maiduguri, the State Capital of Borno and almost 200,000 refugees from Nigeria in the neighbouring countries around the Lake Chad.

Women cook in pots heated up with firewood at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp at Dikwa, in Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria, on February 2, 2016.
The National Emergency Management Agency in collaboration with Borno State Emergency Management Agency has set up new IDP camps in Ngala, Marte, Bama and Mafa councils to decongest the growing population of IDP camp set up at Dikwa council of Borno State. Nigeria expects many of the 2.1 million people internally displaced by Boko Haram's insurgency to return home in the coming year, amid claims the Islamists are in disarray and a spent force. / AFP / STRINGER        (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
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Famine Threatens Millions Across Africa and the Middle East

We are on the precipice of another humanitarian crisis. The hunger crisis that is raging in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen is threatening the lives of millions of people. The crisis is urgent, complex and vast. Without swift action, alarming food shortages in Ethiopia, Chad, Kenya, Uganda, and Niger, could also spiral into crisis.

Crop failures brought on by climate change, combined with conflicts that have forced entire villages from their land, have caused the onset of famine in four countries across Africa and the Middle East. An estimated 20 million people – including 1.4 million children – are already suffering from malnutrition, and if the global community fails to act, the ongoing food shortages and widespread poverty in these countries will cause unthinkable suffering and unnecessary deaths.

As a member organization of Consortium 12-12, a Belgian non-profit platform, Doctors of the World is working to distribute food and water, provide medical care, improve hygiene and strengthen the agricultural capabilities of these communities in three of the famine-affected countries: Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

Find out more https://doctorsoftheworld.org/2017/03/23/famine-threatens-millions-across-africa-and-the-middle-east/

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Can Better Warnings About Dangerous Crossings Stem the Tide of African Migrants?

AGADEZ, Niger — In the middle of Niger’s sweltering Sahara desert and far from home, Koné Bingoro lies on one of four beds in a cramped room. He’s propped up on one elbow, texting. The 29-year-old’s right leg hangs casually over the metal bed frame, a thin blanket covers his left.

After a failed journey to Libya and a thwarted attempt at passage to Italy in search of work, Bingoro is resting at the International Organization for Migration’s Agadez camp while waiting to go home to Côte d’Ivoire. Almost 300 young men and a handful of women from across West Africa are also staying at the camp, many of them returned from similar attempts. Some will try again; most will go home with IOM’s help.

Bingoro shifts the blanket, revealing a bright white bandage on his lower leg where his left foot should be, an extremity that was amputated due to infection shortly after he arrived in Agadez.

For the young mechanic, this room is the end of a four-month journey in search of a better life — one that went very wrong, and one he might not have embarked upon had he known the danger that awaited him.

This month, IOM is launching the “Aware Migrants” communication campaign to build on their 2016 efforts to formalize the information process for those considering the journey from Agadez to Libya, Algeria or Italy.

IOM is careful to specify that the campaign is not a standalone answer to migration — a problem that will require a “comprehensive” approach — nor is it meant to “dissuade” potential migrants from migrating irregularly across the Sahara desert, through Libya and across the Mediterranean Sea, said Flavio Di Giacomo, a spokesperson with the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean, during an online press conference last week.

But it is meant to counter the rumors of easy journeys and of the guaranteed prosperity and health services that await in Europe. Eye-opening stories of illegal detention, physical abuse, forced labor, rape, robbery and the perils of desert and sea crossings, meanwhile, are far less often recounted by survivors.

The number of migrants who have made the journey from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe has surged in the past four years. In 2014, an estimated 9,000 Nigerians arrived in Italy. Two years later, the number had jumped to 37,000. Increasing numbers of people are also coming from Eritrea, Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Senegal, Mali and Sudan. But deaths in the Mediterranean rise concurrently, from 3,700 estimated deaths in 2015 to more than 5,000 in 2016, according to Di Giacomo.

The number of people who die in the Sahara desert is unknown, but it is thought to be “huge,” Di Giacomo added.

Still, Niger’s centrally located city of Agadez continues to draw migrants from across the continent, having developed a reputation as a way station to buy provisions, identify a smuggler and make last minute plans before driving through the Sahara to Libya. Nigerien authorities estimated that between 120,000 and 150,000 migrants transited Niger in 2016.

Often, migrants plan to go no farther than North Africa. But human rights abuses and poor living conditions in Libya see them putting the last of their savings toward boat passage, often in cheap rubber dinghies, to make the perilous sea crossing to Europe.

In the past year, aid groups working in migration have interviewed thousands of sub-Saharan African migrants with similar stories — of being told the Mediterranean is a shallow river to be crossed, or that the vast, lawless no man’s land that separates Agadez and Libya is nothing but a day’s drive. Other concerns are easily swept away with talk of friends, family or money awaiting them in Europe. Migrants continue to make the journey — and become casualties along the way.

It was hope for a better paying job as a large truck mechanic that propelled Bingoro to leave his home and head for Libya. After four months struggling to survive in the country, he decided Europe was his best option, but smugglers robbed Bingoro of his boat passage savings in Tripoli. Instead, he joined a group making the journey back to Niger and called on friends to loan him money for the trip.

He didn’t make it far before armed bandits attacked his truck in the desert to rob them of what little money they still had. It was an infected gunshot wound that cost Bingoro his foot.

“What happened, happened,” a resolute Bingoro told Devex. “I just want to go home.”

Recalling the life-threatening risks along their journeys is often very distressing, and most migrants wish to forget and move forward with their lives rather than share their experience with peers who are still back home, according to Di Giacomo.

For his part, Bingoro knew of some of the dangers, he said, but since arriving in Agadez he has listened to more news and has talked to others who have had similar experiences. He can’t say for sure whether he would have still made the journey had he known more beforehand.

“It’s my destiny; only God decides,” he said. Now, he’s just happy to be alive.

This is a commonly heard refrain from returned migrants, according to Monica Chiriac, media and communications officer for IOM. When she visits the ghettos, or informal settlements where migrants are staying, in Agadez the conversations often turn “very philosophical,” she said.

But a 60-person ghetto she visited in December had dwindled to about 20 in February: “Migrants themselves have said that people have stopped coming because they are more informed nowadays about the dangers of the route,” Chiriac said, although it’s possible they are finding other, equally dangerous, routes instead.

IOM hopes to encourage story sharing and to reach even more migrants before they depart Agadez with the new campaign, Di Giacomo said. Designed to live mainly on Facebook, where migrants communicate their journey and many smugglers advertise their services, the campaign will collect testimony of migrants arriving in Italy, as well as those coming back to Niger from Libya. IOM would also like to see radio and TV spots and one-on-one awareness sessions at the local level, an activity that Catholic Relief Services plans to get involved with in Agadez.

Still, the communications campaign is just one small way to address a larger problem: “A comprehensive approach is needed to address root causes of migration,” Di Giacomo stressed.

The current situation in Agadez requires a two-pronged approach that looks at the needs of migrants, but also of host communities, according to Petra Suric Jankov, Catholic Relief Services Niger business development specialist.

“If they’re willing to take the risks to advance themselves and their families, just telling migrants it’s a dangerous crossing isn’t enough,” Suric Jankov said. “Even if they are better informed, the next thing they’re going to say is: ‘OK, but what other options do we have to create a better life?’”

The same goes for host communities housing migrants, she said. In Agadez especially, a collapsed tourism industry following the 2007-2009 Tuareg Rebellions combined with an increasing migrant population has inspired former tour operators to jump into the lucrative business of smuggling migrants.

Both communities are in dire need of economic alternatives. CRS has proposed a project, designed in partnership with IOM, in Agadez that would provide skill-building, income-generating activities for both host community members and prospective migrants who might make the ultimate decision to head home rather than across the Mediterranean. Under the project, both communities would be able to receive certification in mobile skills such as hair dressing, leather making or welding.

Host communities would also benefit from greater agricultural development, such as improved irrigation and training in market gardening — activities CRS hopes to begin in the next few months in partnership with Caritas Norway.

It’s a promising project in a region with few development actors, Suric Jankov said, and CRS is currently awaiting an answer on the proposal from the government of Norway.

In the meantime, Bingoro waits for his foot to heal so he can go home.

And IOM will wait to see if pushing improved communications and information sharing to busloads of migrants pouring into Agadez diminishes the number who perish or suffer grave injuries while on the search for a better life.

By Kelli Rogers, Devex

A would-be inmigrants  arrive  at the beach of El Matorral in Spain«s canary  island of Fuerteventura , November 15, 2006.Some 38 would-be inmigrants were intercepted aboard a makeshift boat on their way to reach European soil from Africa , according to authorities.REUTERS/Juan Medina ( Spain )
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