Changing harmful beliefs: Drinking explosives to protect yourself?

In Nigeria, DRC’s Humanitarian Disarmament & Peacebuilding team combats superstition and misconception connected to explosives, which pose a great danger to people in conflict-ridden areas.

In a settlement for internally displaced people in north-eastern Nigeria, people who had fled their hometowns due to conflict were preparing to return home. A dangerous rumour was bouncing around the settlement, however: making a drink from explosive powder and water would protect the drinker against being harmed by weapons.

The Kukuwa Primary School headmaster informed DRC’s risk education team about the dangerous misbelief during a community meeting discussing the dangers associated with explosive remnants of war. The headmaster also explained that the area everyone would be returning to was littered with such explosives.

Changing the narrative

Once the DRC risk education team learned about the rumor, they immediately organised additional risk education sessions with the local population, where the serious risks and non-existant benefts of consuming explosives were emphasized.

Thankfully no-one was harmed, and after receiving risk education from DRC, the community members have adopted safer behaviours around explosive remnants of war.

‘’People have understood that the only way to stay safe is to stay far away from such explosives’’, says Marie-Josée Hamel, DRC’s Deputy Head of Programme in Nigeria.