You’re viewing a version of this story optimized for slow connections. To see the full story click here.

Reaching those furthest behind

Food for people displaced by Boko Haram violence in Nigeria

Story by World Food Programme December 13th, 2016

More than 45,000 people received food and nutrition support in Ngala, northeastern Nigeria, as part of WFP’s second rapid response mission bringing life-saving help to people displaced by Boko Haram violence. The Rapid Response Mechanism (RMM) is an emergency response for delivering humanitarian assistance to people when they are most vulnerable — caught in conflict, fleeing violence, or otherwise in extremely hard-to-reach areas. An RRM team hits the ground to conduct a rapid needs assessment and then coordinates an operation to deliver food and other humanitarian aid to reach a large volume of people in a short time. In Ngala, WFP delivered rice, beans, a nutritious corn and soy flour blend, and specialized food to fight malnutrition in children.

Staff remain in remote, hard-to-access areas for up to six days to distribute food. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze
Life-saving supplies are brought into remote areas by truck. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze
Ngala camp residents register for food distribution. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze
In northeastern Nigeria, nearly two million people need urgent humanitarian assistance. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze
WFP assistance brings relief to thousands of families displaced by Boko Haram violence. Photo:WFP/Amadou Baraze


Ngala, in Borno state, used to be a town thriving on agriculture, fishing and cross-border trading with Cameroon. Now, it is home to tens of thousands of people who have escaped Boko Haram violence.

With more than 50,000 people gathered in the buildings and on the grounds of a secondary school enclosed by a barbed wired fence, Ngala's internally displaced people’s camp resembles a small town. Camp residents come from different places. But they have one thing in common – they have all known the wrath of Boko Haram violence, and fled to Ngala for safety.

Waiting for food distribution at Ngala camp. WFP/Amadou Baraze
The vast expanse of Ngala camp, home to 50,000 people who escaped Boko Haram. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze.
Families receive rice, beans, and a blend of corn and soy. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze
WFP provides staple foods and special supplements to combat malnutrition in children. Photo:WFP/Amadou Baraze


Bintu (pictured below) lost her husband to Boko Haram violence. She now finds herself alone, caring for her six children and elderly mother at Ngala camp.

“We depend on food coming from outside. Before WFP came, we would go and beg from the other people in the camp. Sometimes they could spare something for us, and then we could eat. Other times we got nothing, and spent the night with an empty stomach,” says Bintu.

One thing that keeps Bintu and the other displaced people’s spirit alive is the hope to return to their homes one day. They miss working on their farms. They miss living a life that feels more dignified, and being able to fend for themselves, they say.

“We suffered so much because of Boko Haram. They chased us from our homes; we are so angry about what has happened to us. Our lives were so much better in our homes than here,” Bintu adds.

Bintu queues to receive food assistance for herself, her six children and elderly mother. Photo:WFP/Amadou Baraze
Both Bintu and Fatima lost their husbands to Boko Haram violence and found refuge at Ngala camp. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze
Bintu cooks a meal for her family with the food she received from WFP. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze


Fatima (pictured below) was also widowed because of Boko Haram violence. She has been at Ngala for 11 months with her five children, including her two-year-old daughter, Aisha, who received nutrition support against malnutrition.

“We used to beg for food, or go behind the camp and collect firewood to sell to buy some food. We suffered a lot,” Fatima says.

“May God reward those who help us; we pray that they will continue bringing food until we are able to feed ourselves.”

In some areas of northeast Nigeria, more than 50 percent of children under five suffer from malnutrition. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze
Camp residents share long-awaited food supplies. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze
Thanks to WFP assistance, Fatima is able to feed her children. Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze
Footnote: Story and photos by WFP's Amadou Baraze.
Borno state, Nigeria