Nigeria: How Zamfara Women Widowed By Bandits Struggle for Survival

5 August 2020

Gusau — Women animal farmers in Zamfara State said they have over the years borne the brunt of attacks by armed men which have made many of them to abandon their animals.

The women said their economic well-being collapsed after the animal rearing they largely depended on was brought to a halt by banditry.

Some of them who have been widowed by the attacks on Zamfara communities recounted how they are coping after their breadwinners were killed by the criminals.

Some of the women, who spoke to Caliphate Trust, said getting what to eat had become very difficult for them and that sometimes they had to send their children to beg.

Some of the women, who are now Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Tsunami area in Gusau, the Zamfara State capital, are appealing to people, especially wealthy individuals, to come to their aid, particularly on issues that have to do with food and education of their children.

One of the women said, "I'm here with seven children; my husband was killed during a deadly attack by these criminals in Tsanu village in Zurmi LGA. I was pregnant when he was killed and I have now given birth to a baby boy.

"My in-law who went to Lagos for commercial motorbike riding used to send money to us, but some months back, due to the lockdown, things became harder for us. The last time he sent some money to us was in March and since then we have not heard from."

Another widow with five children, Halima, said they started last Ramadan fasting with very little resources at their disposal despite the effort by her eldest son to provide for them from doing menial jobs.

Halima said, "As you can see now, my eldest son has gone looking for job. We expect him to return late in the evening. So if we are lucky he would come back with something that will help us get breakfast. Life is too difficult here.

"Most of our children would go into town begging for food. We were displaced from our villages in Birnin Magaji LGA of the state by armed bandits. They burnt down our silos, killed my husband and drove us away."

As for Mariya Usman, finding menial jobs is difficult as the labour market is saturated because of too many people longing for survival, especially in the area they stay.

She said, "At times we go out and cannot find jobs to do. This is compounding our woes. If there is work to do, we wouldn't have much problems. But somebody with dependents and who can't find anything to do is disastrous."

An aged-woman from Gusami community in Birnin Magaji LGA said her three sons were killed by the armed bandits while working on their farms.

She said, "I left the community after the devastating attack and took shelter here. I had never been to Gusau before and I came here through the advice of a young person whose father was also killed in the attack.

"I'm getting food from the neighbourhood, sometimes people assist, but the assistance decreased when the COVID-19 pandemic cast clouds of uncertainty over many people. We are begging the government to come and assist us.

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