Involving Communities to Create Human Networks
Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-Africa)
The Leadership Initiative for Transformation and Empowerment (LITE-Africa), is a leading nongovernmental organization (NGO) operating in Nigeria since 1999 with a vision to create a safe space for peace and development action and a mission to facilitate community and human development, foster good governance and create inclusive and diverse networks and collaborations within the Niger Delta region of southern Nigeria and beyond.
Both the mission and vision statements speak to the organization’s aspiration to expand programming beyond the Niger Delta, beginning across the African sub-region. Our organizational aims and objectives are to:
- Enhance capacities of youth and women in livelihoods and income generating activities;
- Strengthen the capacities of women , youth, CBOs and CSOs on leadership and governance;
- Facilitate dialogue, strengthen co-existence and create a safe platform for difference and diversity amongst stakeholders in the Niger-Delta region and beyond;
- Create an enabling environment that promotes economic investment and developmental activities in the Niger-Delta region and beyond;
- Create awareness and build capacities of stakeholders on their rights and responsibilities as citizens in the Niger-Delta region and beyond;
- Encourage and promote activities and programmes that help to increase safe health practices;
- Advocate for gender equity and mainstreaming; and
- Promote and strengthen active citizen participation in political processes.
LITE-Africa develops and implements high impact community centred programmes that fall within the thematic areas of sustainable livelihoods and health, governance and human rights and humanitarian services support. LITE-Africa facilitates community and human development in over 300 communities in Southern Nigeria. We have successfully implemented training, research projects and livelihood programmes for the most vulnerable, socially and economically underprivileged women, at-risk youth, and adults who live in some of the most conflict ridden areas in rural Niger Delta communities. Our programmes have helped turn these residents into productive, well-esteemed members of their communities.
“Both the mission and vision statements speak to the organization’s aspiration to expand programming beyond the Niger Delta, beginning across the African sub-region.”
After the recent flood of September 2012 which rendered thousands of people homeless, damaged livelihoods and crumbled the socio-economic conditions of communities in the Niger Delta and across Nigeria, LITE-Africa carried out a preliminary assessment with other development partners which led to the emergence of the Integrated Emergency Flood Response Project. Partnering with the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) & Catholic Relief Services (CRS) on an ECHO grant, the Integrated Emergency Recovery Program is being implemented in Delta State. This six month intervention is geared towards supporting the most vulnerable households affected to recover their livelihoods in selected communities through provisions of unconditional cash transfers, Agricultural Services and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). LITE-Africa is partnering on this project under the unconditional cash transfer activities with the Justice, Peace and Development Commission (JPDC). A total of 3,240 individuals received the livelihood packages, 1700 farmers and fishermen received extension services. 438 beneficiaries attended the Disaster Risk Reduction Training.
With funding from Oxfam Novib Netherlands, LITE-Africa is implementing a 5-year project in Niger delta tagged ‘Oxfam Novib Livelihood and Governance (ONLAG)’. With 75% women’s participation, this project focuses on enhancing existing livelihoods and providing alternative livelihoods to local communities, as a means of reducing poverty and increasing household disposable income. Through the implementation Of ONLAG project, we have helped improve farm yields, enhanced households disposable income, increased women participation in decision making and created alternative livelihoods for 2,500 beneficiaries. To magnify the impact of the project our Business Development Specialist (BDS) is in talks with the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), the Delta Agricultural Procurement Agency (DAPA) to get access to agricultural inputs, high yielding seedlings, cassava cuttings, fishing materials and linkages to agricultural credit schemes. Through these linkages we will support individual farmers and farmers in our agro-based cooperative groups to in-crease their productivity and incomes. By the end of the intervention 6,480 individuals will benefit from livelihood skills enhancement.
Our Governance and Livelihood in the Niger Delta (GOLIND) project addresses the structural issues that inhibit women’s participation in community leadership in 2 communities each in Delta and Bayelsa States by empowering them through livelihood and income generation activities. Funded by The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), this project will equip 200 beneficiaries with 75% women participation on income generating skills and leadership skills to be able to champion their causes and participate actively in community development.
‘Tomorrow is a new day (TND)’ is an 18-month project funded by the European Union through search for common ground. This project seeks to complement the Federal Government’s Amnesty Programme on Disarmament by supporting community-level conflict resolution, and the reintegration of ex-militants in 7 trend setting communities in the Niger Delta states of Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states. The project has helped reduce barriers to reconciliation and reintegration, including bad attitudes and mind set. Beyond community capacity building, the TND intervention also brought about peaceful relationship between the different social groups in the project communities, in particular with ex-militants. Throughout the course of the project, LITE-Africa will provide conflict training for community stakeholders in conflict transformation techniques, assist in trauma healing assessments, provide advocacy training for women and youth to enable them learn the skills to effectively communicate with government representatives and TNCs on human rights needs for their communities.
We have also developed a Citizen Report Card (CRC) though our project ‘Niger Delta Citizen Report Card on Public Services, Good Governance, and Infrastructure/Development’ The 10-month project was implemented in 120 communities covering three geopolitical zones of Nigeria, Southeast, Southwest and South-South. Through a participatory approach, the project assessed issues of good governance, public services (health, education, public electricity, water and sewage) and infrastructure. A report was published and circulated among the communities, civil society organizations (CSOs), and international organizations highlighting areas that have been neglected including abandoned projects. The report serves as a reference tool for advocacy among stakeholders and has continued to serve as a reference for donor agencies and development partners in their project design. This project was financed by European Union Inside and Oxfam Novib.
LITE-Africa Serves as key facilitator working with various communities to negotiate GMOUs with Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL).Our Executive Director is currently serving as the Secretary to a Multi-Stakeholders Committee reviewing issues of compensation and environmental remediation on the KS Endeavours fire incident at Funiwa field, Bayelsa State. LITE-Africa is also part of a consortium of civil society organisations working overseeing community participation in the Chevron GMoU process through the Participatory Partnership for Community Development (PPCD) project.
We are presently working on a one-year AusAid funded project entitled ‘A Call to Action: Engaging all Stakeholders on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. This project aims to increase the awareness of the VPs in the Nigeria through trainings, workshops and advocacy meetings and persuade the Nigerian Federal Government to sign on to the VPs through a VP Call to Action. Click here to sign on yourself to persuade the Nigerian government to sign on to the VPs.
LITE-Africa is stretching its operations beyond the Niger delta into other countries in Africa in the near future. This will occur through increased collaboration with development partners inclusive of CBOs in countries that host extractive industries.The impetus behind this decision is based on the reality that the Niger Delta region presents a unique case study with various competing elements. The lessons learned in this context are instructive for crisis and resource rich areas throughout Africa.