Cobbling a path toward independence

Until recently, being disabled in Yola, Nigeria, meant living on the streets. But a project to improve the livelihood of those who live and work in the country’s flood plains and low-lying areas (fadamas) has helped turned beggars into cobblers.

“After God, Fadama II is the next most important thing to us,” says Mallam Abubakar Hosere, chairperson of a group of 20 disabled men and women who have gone into shoemaking with help from the Fadama II project. The project—a joint collaboration between the federal government of Nigeria and the World Bank—provides loans to members of its user groups. IFPRI recently completed an evaluation of the project and found that the incomes of its beneficiaries increased by about 60 percent and the value of group-owned productive assets increased by 590 percent. It concluded that the project’s broad-based approach contributed to its significant impact.

“Before Fadama II, we were all beggars—that was all we thought cripples could do,” says Hosere. “When we heard of Fadama II project on the local radio, and that it is opened to all including the vulnerable and the physically challenged like us, we decided to take advantage. We registered and applied [for funds] to go into shoemaking, but we were asked to contribute 30 percent of the sum. Initially, we suffered to raise it, but thank God for some people who assisted us. We are now ‘big men and women’ as we earn money on daily basis; our shoes are very marketable.”

In addition to acquiring new skills and assets, the group also has a new goal. “We want to reduce the number of beggars on the street of Yola to the barest minimum,” says Hosere.

For more about the Fadama II project and IFPRI’s involvement in it, visit: http://www.ifpri.org/pubs/dp/ifpridp00756.asp