GWOZA, Nigeria, March 15, 2019/ — On 10 March, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reopened a rehabilitated community market in Gwoza, Nigeria. 142 Gwoza residents participated in the rehabilitation of the market as part of a cash for work initiative aimed at strengthening the local economy through income opportunities and providing motivation for conflict affected individuals to invest in their community. The market was badly damaged as a result of the protracted conflict with non-state armed groups in north-east Nigeria and remained unused for many years.
“The reopening of the local market is an important part of IOM’s support to the transition and recovery process in Gwoza,” said Afra Ure, IOM Nigeria Project Officer. “Apart from reinvigorating the local economy, it is also an important step towards a return to the community’s pre-conflict way of life.”
Though many people have returned to their homes in Gwoza since Nigerian forces regained control of the town in 2015, humanitarian assistance remains critical. In addition to livelihood recovery assistance, IOM distributed 550 cash grants and shelter repair kits containing the necessary materials to rebuild homes.
“I have worked in an open space without shade in the old market for over four years,” said Modu, a local vendor. “But with the construction of stalls, I can comfortably display my fabric wraps and I believe even my customers will be more at ease to buy my products.”
Alongside Modu some 350 other vendors now sell cereals, vegetables, clothing and household items such as buckets, brooms and cleaning products in the new facilities.
As part of the efforts to improve the living conditions of people affected by the conflict, support their recovery and build their resilience, IOM has implemented livelihood projects consisting of community-level rehabilitation and vocational trainings across North-East Nigeria.
“I’m the leader of my household and I hope that working in the reopened market will help me get the necessary means to sustain my family… I’m optimistic,” said Fatima, who sells candy and other confectioneries at the market.