ABUJA, Nigeria — This country has long struggled with rural poverty. Even before Boko Haram began its streak of human rights abuses in the north, protracted institutional neglect had left rural communities in a haze of disrepair.
Scarcity of opportunity continues to beset the 50 million who live in rural poverty in Nigeria, and inadequately resourced medical and educational facilities offer them little recourse. Working to change that is the Child Aid, Community-Care & Development Initiative (CACCADEV), a non-profit based in Abuja.
The organization enacts community mobilization programs designed to enlighten and empower populations in need. Self-help interventions, which are tethered to a firm belief in promoting local ownership and sustainability, are staged to support debilitated health and education systems.
Oshokeme Cosmas Adurojaiye founded CACCADEV in 2009, the same year Boko Haram claimed the northern city of Maidugri as its headquarters. Despite the alignment of events, Adurojaiye told The Borgen Project that his inspiration stemmed largely from prior experience.
“I grew up doing this work passionately,” said Adurojaiye, who continues to serve as CACCADEV’s executive director. “I lost my mum when I was just six, and I dislike seeing children — especially the vulnerable — suffer.”
An altar boy and ardent volunteer in his youth, Adurojaiye found his calling when he joined the archdiocese as a volunteer programs officer. He honed his mobilizing skills and development expertise by working alongside large-scale relief agencies — such as USAID and the Global HIV/AIDS Initiative Nigeria (GHAIN) — as well as local NGOs.
Volunteers were the driving force behind CACCADEV when operations first began, and that hasn’t changed since. What has changed is the organization’s increased capacity for partnership and collaboration.
A few years ago, for instance, CACCADEV contributed groundwork to the World Bank-affiliated Global Fund Round 9 projects, which administered HIV testing and counseling services in Nigerian clinics. CACCADEV is also part of the Stop TB Partnership, an international crusade against tuberculosis.
Such liaisons give the organization bureaucratic leverage in the fight against rural poverty in Nigeria, where funding is hard to come by. Adurojaiye admitted that limited funds present a continuous challenge to reaching objectives, as do structural factors like low literacy rates.
Only 48.7 percent of adults living in rural Nigeria were literate in 2010. High illiteracy, Adurojaiye said, keeps the rural poor “ignorant of government and non-state actors’ intervention programs.”
“Constant and persistent advocacy has been a strategy to mobilize targeted communities,” continued Adurojaiye. Key to the strategy’s success are intensive awareness campaigns and discussion-based education opportunities.
For CACCADEV, education and empowerment go hand in hand when it comes to curbing rural poverty in Nigeria. The organization mediates both by prioritizing community participation, teaching lessons on crucial subjects and skills in which all can partake.
Topics covered range from income generation activities to disease prevention to basic home-based care, and community members are even encouraged to sign onto projects as on-site personnel. Recruits are equipped with relevant training and other capacity-building tools.
CACCADEV is looking to pursue another kind of building in the near future, just as it helped to establish an orphanage and senior care facility in the recent past.
“We have a dream of building our own skill acquisition center,” said Adurojaiye, “where the young and old –especially women — can engage themselves, learn a trade and become independent to support their families.”
And what a wonderful dream it is — a dream built for others so that others can build for themselves.
– Jo Gurch