Nigeria: Telling Internally Displaced Persons Stories Using Visual Data and Infographics

Read a data-driven discussion on the plight of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria, and see the real power of data science and data visualization.

By Blaise Aboh, Orodata.

Towards the end of 2015 I got fed up of the news surrounding Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria with a population of 2.2 million; their food was being stolen and resold, the women and girl child were being raped, food was being exchanged for sex, tents and other infrastructural resources were being carted away. Insecurity was a great challenge as sometime later this year 2016 February, 50 persons were killed by a suicide bomb attack and news of over 1,200 graves existing near Bama IDP camp in Borno with almost 500 being children shocking everyone. Looking at the crisis, it is pertinent to point out how we got here; Nigeria ignored all indicators and data pointing to the worsening conditions and elements which resulted to the present debacle.

Borno State, is a state in north-eastern Nigeria with its capital as Maiduguri. In the last 7 years, the state has been devastated by conflict caused by ‘Boko Haram Islamic extremist group which originated from the state. The insurgency in the North East claimed an estimated 20,000 lives, displaced a record of 3.3 million people with a material loss of $6 billion according to World Bank, thus precipitating a grave humanitarian crisis and gaining global attention.

The crisis has lead to displacement of people spread across Northern Nigeria states such as Adamawa, Bauchi, Bauchi, Benue, FCT, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Nassarawa, Plateau, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara many which have continued to exhibit the worst human development indicators in the world with 71.5 per cent living in absolute poverty and more than half malnourished, making it the poorest part of the country according AOA Global’s Rebuild Borno report.

Nigerians in their numbers have been outraged, personally I got fed up of the outrage because it so seems that the ‘outraged’ go back to their businesses at least until there was another distasteful occurrence related to the IDPs in the news, more so outrage without informed positive action is nothing. So I looked deep in my organization Orodata to see what we could do in support of what was already being done by a few. As Analytical Design and Data Lead, I saw the problems, but I also saw that to begin to try to solve these problems or to forge a path for others that could lead to addressing the prevailing challenges, one needed to have access to information related to the IDPs, no matter what it was, this information needed to be available to the public or concerned groups or organizations and the data had to be simple and visual so as to allow for ease of consumption and share-ability.

Data related to the IDPs is scarce, but the importance of this data cannot be overemphasized because for solutions to be provided, there needs to be a knowledge base with information as to the level of infrastructural damages on ground, health challenges, food consumption, births, deaths, incidence of disease, in fact a total composition of the IDP population in Nigeria so as to illustrate their changing structure which will help whoever is looking to provide a solution or appropriate funds understand where to start and the extent of aid needed. 

More importantly, funds needed to be tracked, data regarding who gave what, who received what and amount or what was received needed to be in a central and easily accessible data infrastructure so as to allow open transparency and accountability while measuring impact of spending. The platform would allow anyone see everything holistically. News of acute undernourishment emanating for the camps and video evidence of ‘re-bagging’ of rice bags donated by charity for sale which emerged later 2016, buttressed this point making it evident that there were forms of corruption, misappropriation of funds and resources going on in the camps.

So early 2016 I and my team at Orodata prepared a proposal for a project named “Security Governance: IDPs Tracker”, the project was to facilitate the creation of a framework linking specific inputs and activities with indicators and their potential impact and measurement. Its infrastructure will allow for TRACKING and facilitation of MONITORING, measurement, visual ANALYSIS, ADVOCACY and evaluation of impact of specific inputs and activities. I reached out to our beloved partner ‘BugdIT Nigeria’ who immediately threw their weight behind the project. The project kicked off on the low, because showing results of our findings, making them available and advocating with them along the way was and is more important.

We have sent FOI request to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and their reply has not been satisfactory especially as related to funds, thus we are fine tuning our questions so as to resend another. We have and are still reaching out to NGOs and Humanitarian Organizations and other arms of government requesting data related to funds and resources donated, appropriated or expended on the IDPs in a specific number of years. So far we have gathered some data and are visualizing and telling stories with them for the world to listen to towards actionable decisions purposes. We want the world to see what is on ground, what is happening, what is being done and see the gaps through VISUAL DATA. A solo platform to host the visual data will come much later, for now we present you data first.

Below are some infographics stories related to our findings:

Nigeria Rebuilding Borno - Stats

Nigeria Donations to Borno Government in 4 years

AuthorBio: Blaise Aboh is Data Visualization Architect and founding partner at Orodata, a Civic Tech startup discovering the best applications for Open Data and translating public data into insightful narratives, leveraging interactive visualizations to uphold transparency, accountability, and civic inclusion.