LARAMIE, Wyoming — In late 2020, The World Bank approved a $1.5 billion loan to Nigeria with the primary goal of reducing poverty levels in the country and accelerating development in Nigeria. The loan will help finance two major projects: the country’s COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus (CARES) Program and The State Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability Program for Results (SFTAS). Both projects will coordinate and collaborate with the International Development Association.
Dividing The Loan
The first project delegates funds toward the Nigeria CARES Program, focusing on the immediate needs of those disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The second aspect of the loan contributes to improving education, water and sanitation access as well as improving healthcare and establishing social assistance programs. Each of these sectors is underdeveloped and needs sustainable solutions for Nigeria’s population to climb out of poverty.
The official statement from the World Bank reads, “With the sharp fall in oil prices as a result of COVID-19, the economy is projected to contract by more than 4% in 2020, plunging the country into its deepest recession since the 1980s. Government revenues could fall by more than $15 billion this year, and the crisis will push an additional five million Nigerians into poverty in 2020”. As it stands, nearly half of the country’s population already lives below the poverty line, earning less than $1.90 per day.
Current Economic Challenges
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country, with approximately 206 million people. Despite significant economic growth in the past decade, Nigeria still battles high poverty and unemployment levels. A statistic from Quartz Africa states, “One in every two Nigerians in the country’s labor force is either unemployed or underemployed.” Underemployment describes people working fewer than 40 hours a week or working below their level of skill, expertise or education. Since 2015, unemployment levels have almost tripled.
Boko Haram in Nigeria
Violence and conflict in Nigeria have been ongoing for years. The extremist group Boko Haram has been a present force in Nigeria since its founding in 2002. The terrorists have led indiscriminate attacks on civilians throughout the country, often targeting schools and keeping hostages for ransom. The organization has ultimately taken the lives of thousands and has caused the displacement of roughly 2.1 million people.
Since 2009, Boko Haram has claimed the lives of an estimated 30,000 civilians across the country although the true number is likely higher. Along with food insecurity for millions of people, the group has also worsened, “the degradation of infrastructure, including the closing or destruction of more than half of the region’s schools, and the near-complete breakdown of an already weak public health system”, stated the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). This group’s threat is severe, and the Nigerian government needs more resources to combat Boko Haram and end the group’s insurgence.
How Aid Is Helping
Nigeria has the resources necessary for further economic and industrial development. However, it lacks financial stability. The loan provided by the World Bank, therefore, is a crucial step toward development in Nigeria and building a sustainable, safer, more prosperous country.
Organizations like the CLEEN Foundation are also present in Nigeria, providing citizens with critical resources and aid. The CLEEN foundation specifically works to “promote public safety, security and accessible justice.”
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also provides aid to displaced Nigerians and refugees from the region. It is working in conjunction with various non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Northern Nigeria to restore peace and security in volatile areas. The organizations have provided aid to hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians, including food and water resources for refugees in the Lake Chad Basin. As stated on their website, “UNHCR also facilitates sessions on protection against sexual exploitation and abuse for security agents and humanitarian workers at the state capitals as well as at local level.”
While Nigeria is dealing with Boko Haram’s violence and poverty, the loan from the World Bank offers hope for economic advancement and alleviation from the severe impacts of the pandemic. Aid from NGOs and U.N. partners has provided life-saving resources to thousands in Nigeria and will continue to work with those in need for as long as needed. With the loan the the World Bank provided, U.N. agencies are optimistic for future development in Nigeria.
– Allyson Reeder