Salamatus way out of poverty

The violent and protracted insurgency in northeastern Nigeria has left thousands of women as single breadwinners. Many live with severe disabilities as a result of violence and abuse. Salamatu is one of those women who, against all odds but with hard work and only a bit of help, has lifted herself and her children out of poverty.

Displaced. Disabled. Single breadwinner. Salamatu, 28, doesn't exactly have the odds in her favor. And when you add the fact that she owns nothing of value and resides with her four children in an area of Nigeria with great poverty and very little aid from authorities, it was not difficult to foresee her fortune – until recently. Now the future seems quite bright for Salamatu and her children. There is food on the table every day, and the children can go to school and even to the doctor when necessary.

Salamatu has received 4 out of 6 monthly unconditional cash grant of 5,000 Naira - equivalent to about 12 Euro. It doesn't seem like much, but the subsidy has become Salamatu's way out of poverty.

When I started getting the monthly grants, I was very conscious that the money had to be an investment.


Investing in the future of her children

Her disability makes her unable to walk. But Salamatu is adept at knitting the traditional colorful hausa caps – however, before she started receiving the monthly cash grants, she had no way of making use of her skills. The modest monthly grant from DRC gave Salamatu the opportunity to buy yarn and knitting needles, so she could start knitting the hausa caps and set up a small business, selling them on the local market.

"I needed money to buy the materials. When I started getting the monthly grants, I was very conscious that the money had to be an investment," Salamatu says, referring to the future of her children.

She has two months of cash grants left, but her business is already generating enough income that Salamatu is well on her way to being able to provide for her family. With the cash grant from DRC and the profits from selling the caps, Salamatu is now able to buy food and clothes, pay school fees and cover medical expenses for herself and her children.

A small grant with great importance

The cash grants are part of the Building Resilience in Complex Crisis (BRICC) program funded by the EU. By giving unconditional cash grants of 5,000 Naira per month for six months per family, we provide critical support for self-sufficiency for 6,175 families in the northeastern Nigerian state of Yobe – including many single breadwinners like Salamatu – aiming to build resilience in response to conflicts, displacement  and climate change.

"It has been very rewarding for me to start my own business of knitting and selling caps. With my disability, it's the only way for me to make money, so I'm really happy that things are going so well," Salamatu says.

How DRC assists vulnerable women

  • 44 percent of forcibly displaced women have experienced some form of abuse, ranging from physical and sexual assault to kidnapping, robbery or murder.
  • Danish Refugee Council creates secure spaces for women where they can find protection and safety, woman to woman. They can process their experiences and talk about their concerns. They can also find space for sports or other activities that can be difficult to participate in as a woman in a refugee camp.
  • We hand out monetary grants through our cash programs, so they can assess for themselves what their family needs. And we help women with education and hand out microloans to support the creation of their own livelihood.
  • In addition, we empower and encourage women to seek influence and take ownership of their lives, this allowing them to create a better life for themselves and their children.