Raised in a modest household in Hayin Banki, a semi-urban community in Kaduna State, Bilyaminu Idris was driven to contemplate his future. His journey exposed him to the profound socio-economic challenges faced by the local residents, who had limited or no access to quality education and healthcare services.
“In the community where I grew up, 90% of the people were extremely poor,” Idris said.
The Hayin Banki community members’ daily lives revolve around the struggle to find sustenance for the day, living with uncertainty about their future.
Idris, who completed his basic and secondary education in schools with inadequate facilities in the area, was fortunate to secure admission into Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, where he pursued an undergraduate degree in Physics.
Emerging from a community characterised by challenging living conditions, Idris aspired to make a difference.
In 2017, while he was a second-year student at the university, he rallied a group of volunteers from his network and established the Youth Awareness For Peace And Development or YAPD4AFRICA.
YAPD4Africa is a non-profit organisation with a mission to enhance the quality of life in grassroots communities across Northwest Nigeria.
Reaching out to underserved communities
In 2019, Idris and a group of dedicated volunteers successfully launched the Community Action-Led (CAL) project. This initiative promoted and stimulated active engagement in local decision-making, democracy, and grassroots governance.
Furthermore, the project was committed to empowering underserved and marginalized communities through education about their fundamental rights, responsibilities, and civic duties as citizens.
“Through this initiative, we seek to equip individuals in these communities with new knowledge and advocacy skills, enabling them to actively engage in community development,” Idris told Prime Progress.
Beneficiaries of this initiative received comprehensive training on Human Rights and Advocacy, equipping them with the tools to promote civic engagement and community advancement.
Idris also shared with Prime Progress that the CAL Project enabled them to empower individuals to advocate for their rights and hold their representatives accountable.
The positive outcomes of the CAL project have transcended the boundaries of the Hayin Banki community, reaching neighbouring Hara Town in the Dutse Local Government Area of Jigawa State and impacting the lives of at least 2000 individuals.
YAPD4Africa reported that over 100 individuals, spanning women, youth, and the elderly, have been actively involved in the project.
Since then, the beneficiaries have remained dedicated to driving the development of their communities by collaborating with key stakeholders responsible for addressing challenges such as inadequate education, healthcare, and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) facilities.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that 133 million people living in Nigeria are multi-dimensionally poor, of which 86 million live in the northern part of the country.
As a result of bad governance, these people are deprived of basic rights to quality education, health care, and water.
28-year-old Isa Maliki is a resident of Hara Town in Jigawa State. He enthusiastically expressed that the CAL project has instilled the confidence to actively interact with their stakeholders, ranging from ward councillors to the Local Government Area Chairman.
This newfound empowerment has motivated them to arrange Town Hall meetings every two months, where they consistently involve traditional and religious leaders in the discussions.
“In 2022, we were able to engage the Honourable Member representing us at the House of Representatives in Abuja. The meeting was held at our constituency office, and we had fruitful discussions,” Maliki said.
Maliki and other community members urged the representative to put efforts into passing bills and implementing projects that will improve their livelihoods.
“We have done so as the result of the CAL project,” said one of the residents, Farisatu Abdullahi.
Maliki told Prime Progress that before the CAL project reached their community, they didn’t have the communication and advocacy skills to facilitate dialogues with their stakeholders.
The community members are working collaboratively with key stakeholders and individuals to develop sustainable solutions while establishing a shared vision to bridge the gap between them and their representatives.
Limitations and the way forward
Lack of adequate funding is still a limitation as the projects carried out by the organisation marginalised are self-funded.
On many occasions, the founder, Idris, covered transport, accommodation, and meal expenses when he and his volunteers travelled to far-away communities for their work.
“I’m always the one struggling to fund our trips outside our immediate community,” stressed Idris.
Despite the challenges, 23-year-old Idris feels that travelling to those communities gives him the privilege to understand their problems and how to come up with solutions.
Idris believes that future leaders can emerge from those grassroots communities when the people fully know their rights and responsibilities as citizens.
He said his organisation hopes to secure better funding and collaborate with others to implement projects like the We Need Peace, Who Is Almajiri?, and Rescue A Girl (RAG) projects next year.