Nigeria's refugee crises spiked in 2015. The bane that is Boko Haram (BH) led to widespread displacement of over 2 million people in the North East. Homes and whole communities were destroyed, and survivors had to trudge to camps set up for them by state and federal governments.
Several individuals, organizations, multinational donors and governments intervened with resources, however, there were constant reports that situations were not getting better. Key issues we flagged were malnutrition deaths in IDP camps, reported stories of politicians and camp officials growing rich on the hunger of the poor, child trafficking in the camps, all which led to series of ‘IDPs protesting and blocking major highways.
Our strategy and process
Firstly, it was pertinent to understand the situation of things; so we accessed data and activity reports from many humanitarian organizations who have been engaged in IDP intervention work in over four years and more. For real-time data, we used a couple of open source platforms to gather and filter out activity, data or reports on the IDPs from several sources. For government data, we are using Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests – we sent requests to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in request for data related to donations of funds, relief items and food. We also inquired about detailed data on food distribution across all camps and the names of organizations partnering NEMA on Interventions. These Non-Governmental Organizations and several government agencies, we approached them with letters to share their data with us. We also sent FOI requests to Borno State government on how it shared the $1m food and farming grant given to them on behalf of IDPs by Gates foundation plus other information. All recieved information were to form part of the Tracker repository.
Outcomes and learnings
Access to data is tough due to bureaucratic bottlenecks and organizational culture also known as the ‘it-is-the-usual-way-we-do-things’ syndrome. Making detailed IDP related information available is something government must prioritize, however, they are still lacking in that department, especially as they seldom honor FOI requests. We learnt that continuous dialogue with government eventually yields result, although it takes too long. Our visual reports got government to begin investigations into our discoveries. NEMA eventually started making data on its activities public.