Immanuel Afolabi/ The Center on Conflict and Development at Texas A&M University

Nigeria is facing an urgent crisis. Over 20,000 people have died and more than 2 million have fled their homes because of the violence and abductions of Boko Haram, and conflict between ethnic groups in the north of the country.

Young people, both boys and girls, are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by Boko Haram. Often faced with a lack of opportunities, the $3 Boko Haram can pay to burn down a school or engage in violence can seem like an enticing option.

We support the Peace Initiative Network (PIN) in the cities of Kano and Jos to reduce recruitment into extremist groups. Together we provide skills training and peacebuilding and leadership training to young people, women and local communities affected by violence.


What's happening now?


  • Ongoing violence provoked by Boko Haram has caused over 2 million people to flee their homes since 2009. (UN OCHA)
  • As many as 5.2 million people face the threat of famine. (UN OCHA, June 2017)
  • Boko Haram is not the only threat. Violence between ethnic and religious groups and by Fulani militants is a huge cause of violence and displacement.
  • Conflicts between different ethnicities are continuing to escalate leading to deaths and destruction of property in Kano, Kaduna and Plateau states.
  • The crisis is concentrated in the north-east of the country where security remains extremely fragile and bombings and attacks remain a constant threat. 




How we help



  • In 2017 Peace Direct launched a new project with Peace Initiative Network (PIN) to tackle some of the root causes of violence in the badly affected north-east of the country.


  • Together, we support young people to turn away from extremism through skills training and peacebuilding activities.


  • We campaign for more support to local people building peace in Nigeria and worldwide.

Photo: Greg Funnell

Donate now


Project activities

Training young people and women in livelihoods

Aisha Abbas, 25, is working towards becoming a tailor at the PIN-supported Sani Abacha Youth Vocational Training Center. She finds her training empowering, and likes that helps her produce things needed in her country. Photo by Greg Funnell.

PIN will work closely with community and religious leaders, local organisations, clubs and government agencies to identify those most at risk of joining extremist groups.

Factors such as involvement in violence and theft, drug abuse or gangs will be considered as well as working on engaging those who are hard to reach. PIN will prioritise women who are from families where they or another family member is at risk of joining extremist groups.

The young trainees receive training from the best local tradesmen, learning skills ranging from soap making to tailoring. Trainees will attend the centre once per week for six months.

Once trained, the young people and women receive business starter kits made up of tools or material to help them start their business. PIN provide regular follow up support to ensure the young people are thriving.


Peace through sports

Photo: Greg Funnell

One of the best ways to build understanding between rival religions and ethnic groups is through sport.

Every day in Kano, football teams of young men gather at makeshift football pitches to train, learn together, improve their technique and learn to work together. The focus is on learning to deal with problems in a positive way, and address anger through non-violent means.

The sessions are an important leadership and development for young people who face a future with limited opportunities. Young boys that join the team learn discipline and skill and receive support from their families and communities.

The matches draw a big crowd and are often a focal point of the community. At every session PIN staff give a talk about peacebuilding and community issues ensuring any issues are raised and dealt with in a safe environment, reducing the likelihood underlying tensions will spill into violence.


Peace clubs

To support the work with sports and skills training, PIN also runs peace clubs for young people aged 10-25. These draw youth from all different religions and backgrounds to discuss the violence that affects them and their country. Young people learn to work together and gain leadership and teamwork skills that helps build their futures as critical and engaged young people.

Khadija ,18, a member of the PIN-supported Peace Club at a girls school.

In their words: Michael's story

“I am Christian and was born in Lagos, but have lived in the community in Kano in the north for 19 years. After all this time in Kano, somebody decided I should be attacked and tipped off a militia to come and do it.

That day at 10am I came back to my house. My wife and brother were both out of town so I was alone. I noticed that the whole neighbourhood was quiet, the shops were all closed. I felt danger.

I locked my house and went into the streets to see what was going on. When I reached the main road I saw about 100 young boys coming for me. I managed to run to my neighbours who were Muslim. They hid me. I was at their house for four hours. I could see the smoke from them setting fire to my house and my car. Eventually, the police came and took me to a safehouse.

I had lived in the neighbourhood for 19 years and I was seen as a stranger. But I did not want to take revenge. I knew I must do something positive. I needed to forgive, move on and change the trend towards violence. So other members of the community and I, who had all had similar experiences, set up an organisation to work with young people on leadership, peace and identity – to stop this happening again.”

Photo: Greg Funnell



Support incredible people like Michael


News from the field

Blogs, stories, reports and opinion


2019: A year in peacebuilding

As the end of the year approaches, we take a moment to look back at some of the key moments in our work and the lives of our partners.Read more »

Local Heroes: A Shared Goal

This is the story of Michael, a local hero who runs Peace Initiative Network, a peacebuilding organisation supporting young people in the city of Kano, Northern Nigeria. This video was produced by Zoomin.TV as part of their Local Heroes series.Read more »

Local Action Fund

The Local Action Fund – our grant-making programme that will allow us to support a larger number of locally-led atrocity prevention and response interventions through small grants.Read more »



Nigeria in depth


Kano, Northern Nigeria. May 2017. Photo by Greg Funnell.

What caused the current crisis in Nigeria?

Since 2009, Boko Haram has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger. The situation is becoming Africa’s fastest-growing displacement and humanitarian crisis. The violence from Boko Haram has also meant Nigeria is now the third on the Global Terrorism Index after only Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2015, the deaths attributed to Boko Haram alone were 4,095.

In addition, religious and ethnic tensions regularly result in community violence. In the project areas of Kano and Plateau states, there are strong identity issues between those who see themselves as ethnically and religiously ‘indigenous’ and those seen as ‘settlers’. This prejudice has incited conflicts between Muslims and Christians which have recently resulted in over 10,000 casualties.

Young people are particularly susceptible to extremist ideologies or involvement in violence. Northern Nigeria’s ‘youth bulge’ means that 19% of the country’s population is between the ages of 15 and 24. Young people in northern Nigeria face limited opportunities both economically and educationally with the region having some of the lowest school attendance rates in the world. This issue also affects women where access to education, employment and social inclusion are all limited by conservative traditions. Show more

How does Boko Haram recruit?

Young people, both boys and girls, are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by Boko Haram. Often faced with a lack of opportunities, the $3 Boko Haram can offer to burn down a school or engage in violence can seem like an enticing option. Once part of these groups, members can become highly radicalised and many are willing to carry out suicide bombings.

How has the government responded?

In 2011, the Nigerian government created the Joint Task Force, a special military force to tackle violent extremism. However, it is acknowledged that this ‘hard approach’ by national security forces may have alienated local populations and inadvertently contributed to Boko Haram recruitment and propaganda.

In order to remedy this, the government worked with 40 civil society organisations to establish the Partnership Against Violent Extremism (PAVE) with a focus on: peace building and conflict resolution; women and youth; security and safety; media outreach; and humanitarian support. PAVE was an inclusive network that reaches out to communities at the grassroots level to find sustainable solutions by addressing the underlying causes of violent extremism.

What is Peace Direct doing?

In July 2016, Peace Direct convened a meeting of seventeen local peacebuilding organisations from across northern Nigeria. The meeting was a ‘Peace Exchange’ to identify the issues driving conflict and how local organisations could work together to combat this.

Prior to the Peace Exchange, 326 local people from across 10 states in northern Nigeria were surveyed and 67% thought that local peacebuilding initiatives were effective, showing the power of local action. 53% of those survey also identified economic insecurity as one of their main concerns along with 37% citing the attacks by armed groups such as Boko Haram. This project has been designed in response to these concerns. 

Show less