Zainab Mohammed Sambo


Unconditional Cash Grants Promote Resilience in Northeast Nigeria

Through the EU funded project, Building Resilience in Complex Crisis, a business savvy mother improves living conditions for herself and her family.

The insurgency in Northeast Nigeria that has lasted over a decade has left women widowed, children orphaned and an alarming number of persons living with disabilities. According to the World Health Organization 2011 World Disability Report, about 15 percent of Nigeria’s population live with a disability. Many face human rights violations, discrimination and at times, violence.

The humanitarian context and security situation further compromise the ability of persons living with disabilities to access basic services and pursue livelihood opportunities. As a consequence, these individuals experience increased vulnerabilities and enhanced protection concerns.   

Like many members in Gulani, 28-year old Salamatu says life in Gulani since the insurgency is difficult. Gulani is predominantly a farming community with many members engaged in small scale subsistence farming; however, households have faced challenges in accessing the farmlands for years due to insecurity. As a result, many families have lost their only source of livelihood contributing to food insecurity.

Salamatu is a widow with four children and lives with a physical disability. In addition to the limited livelihood options, Salamatu struggled with finding work due to her physical limitations and expressed feeling discriminated and disrespected due to her disability.

Through the Building Resilience in Complex Crisis (BRICC) programme funded by the European Union, Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is building the resilience of vulnerable households to respond to conflict and the effects of climate change in Gulani Local Government Area (LGA).

Through BRICC, DRC is implementing a social safety net programme which provides unconditional cash grants to vulnerable households. The grant of 5000 Naira (EUR 12) per month provides critical support to 6,175 families to access basic needs for a period of six months. As of July 2020, the households have received four tranches and report positive outcomes.


The Building Resilience in Complex Crisis (BRICC) is a European Union funded programme implemented jointly by Mercy Corps, Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI). The programme aims to build the adaptive resilience capacities of 26,875 households identified as vulnerable members of 30 target communities in six LGAs of Yobe State by increasing their ability to cope with the shocks and the stresses of conflict, climate change and complex crisis, and their ability to transform the underlying causal dynamics to reduce the risk of future conflict. In addition, six vocational skills centres, financial institutions, government actors, 30 community resilience groups (CRG), 600 community leaders, 248 savings and loan groups, 248 farmer’s associations, and 2 local civil society organizations will benefit from the action. The project runs from April 2019 to April 2022.

Salamatu is one of the community members whose lives have been positively impacted by the unconditional cash grants. The grant has enabled her to address some of the multiple intersecting barriers faced by the community at large and physically impaired people like her. With her unconditional cash grant, Salamatu started a cap making business. She utilized her knitting skills to make and sell caps, commonly worn by men in the community.      

“Being a physically challenged woman with four children to take care of, I acquired a skill that will sustain me and my children, but I lacked the sufficient funds to buy the required materials. Venturing into the cap making business has been rewarding for me and it is the only lucrative handwork I can do with ease based on my physical condition,” said Salamatu.

By purchasing cap making supplies with the monthly unconditional cash grant provided by DRC, Salamatu was able to establish her business which is now flourishing and yielding profits.

Knowing that the cash grant is temporary, I had to think of the future by investing it. I now make about 5000-6000 Naira monthly (EUR 11 – 15), depending on the market demand and festivities.


Salamatu added that unconditional cash grant has lifted her and her household out of poverty. With the unconditional cash grant and the profits from her business, she is now able to buy clothing, pay school fees and afford medical expenses for herself and her children. She hopes that the social safety net intervention will be extended beyond the stipulated period to allow her to further expand her business.