Nuru International

Rural development and stability in fragile states of the Sahel

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Project Summary

State fragility drives some of the biggest global problems today. The challenge is expected to grow. 80% of the world’s extreme poor are projected to concentrate in fragile states by 2030. The SDGs are at risk. The spread of instability and conflict by violent extremist organizations (VEOs) has meant backsliding in fragile states- particularly the Sahel.Nuru’s locally-led model transitions vulnerable people from subsistence to prosperity and restores a voice in their community's future. By addressing local needs and livelihoods with local solutions, Nuru fosters resilience and social cohesion, while removing key drivers of marginalization and conflict. Strategically located resiliency buffer communities prevent VEOs from spreading to an additional estimated 30 million vulnerable people.By focusing on sustainability and resiliency, Nuru households escape extreme poverty, achieve stability, and are less vulnerable. By working together, communities become more integrated and prosperous, building inroads to working with government and investment.

Problem Statement

The Sahel is at a tipping point. It is getting poorer, more unstable, and more dangerous. Farmers and pastoralists operate at subsistence levels with no hope of a better future as conflict over resources grows. Violent extremist organizations (VEOs) step into power vacuums and exploit desperate circumstances for their own agenda. An estimated 1.7M people live in conflict adjacent communities that have experienced low levels of violence, another 30M are in areas susceptible to the spread of VEOs.Fragile states suffer from “fragility traps”: inadequate government capacity and legitimacy, a divided population, lack of basic security. States cannot provide the most basic needs of their citizens, especially in hard to reach rural areas. This leaves concentrated populations underserved, marginalized and insecure. VEOs offer basic goods and services in exchange for safe havens and control of a community. States have to spend its limited resources on additional security instead of services, further alienating its citizens. Past interventions were largely crisis interventions or top-down initiatives focusing on policy and governance assuming that reform would enable quickly development. These well intentioned efforts failed to impact people’s lives in the countryside.To break the fragility trap, the grievances of marginalized populations need to be addressed to deprive VEOs of their bases and to build trust in the government. Local initiatives with tangible improvements to people’s lives are a high leverage starting point and easier to implement than top-down institution building. They can also bridge the distance between the community and local government.

Solution Overview

Nuru focuses on “the last mile”, remote rural areas, and reinforces states where they are weakest. Locally-led solutions address key needs (e.g. income and livelihoods) and vulnerabilities (lack of hope and resilience) in a sustainable manner, removing the roots of conflict, and restoring agency. VEOs lose entry points into communities and find it harder to grow. Cooperatives bring together diverse members, building social cohesion, and improve local supply chains and markets. They make it easier for governments to extend their services by organization people into groups and reducing transaction costs. Nuru deploys a rigorous M&E strategy that includes a 3rd party RCT and tracks drivers of resiliency to VEOs.In the larger scheme of global poverty, Nuru addresses a relatively small population; however, these communities (whose fall could disproportionately destabilize the wider region) can build resiliency buffers preventing the spread of VEOs to another 30M in the wider Sahel and other populations beyond that. After those 5 years the global community has a viable blueprint with rigorous data for addressing one of the key levers of state fragility.1M people in farmer and herdsmen households living in extreme poverty in Nigeria, Niger, and Mali will directly benefit from participating in Nuru’s programs. The remaining 700K (people in other vocations and those that choose not to participate in Nuru’s programs) will benefit indirectly from improvements in the community. An improved economic and security situation benefits surrounding regions, local and regional governments, the development community, and affect global security.

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Project Funders

  • Vitol Foundation 2017 - 2020
  • Emerson Collective 2017 - 2018
  • Hapke Family Foundation 2019

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