Community surveillance combats sexual and gender-based violence in Adamawa, North-east Nigeria
The Community Surveillance Team (CST) in Adamawa strives to prevent and address all forms of violence and harmful traditional practices against women and children.
In Doubeli community, Adamawa state, north-east Nigeria, eleven-year-old Amina (name changed), mustered a rare courage to share a gory experience with her teacher. Her 47-year-old neighbor, named Ibrahim had sexually abused her, and had threatened to kill her, if she told anyone. The school authorities immediately informed the Community Surveillance Team (CST), who took Amina for medical and psychosocial support at a health facility. The CST, afterwards, reported the case to the Gender Desk at the Doubeli Police Station. The police tracked and arrested Ibrahim.
The CST is a group of community-based change agents, who volunteer to prevent and respond to all forms of violence and harmful traditional practices against children and women in their community. The team works with women groups, community leaders, peer educators and the vigilante group in the communities and operate as foot soldiers for preventing and responding to Violence Against Children (VAC), Gender Based Violence (GBV); with specific focus on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and Harmful Practices (HP). The mandate of the Community Surveillance Teams includes creating awareness, identifying and providing immediate response to incidents of violence and harmful practices against women and girls in their communities. They also ensure that cases are referred to appropriate service providers such as the police, health facilities and social welfare, are documented in the Child Protection/Gender Based Information Management System (CP/GBIMS) and followed up till closure.
Between 2020 and 2022, UNICEF in partnership with the Adamawa State Office of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the Adamawa State Ministry of Women Affairs & Social Development (MWASD), formed 46 CSTs across 4 focus Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Adamawa State - Yola North, Yola South, Mubi North and Mubi South; with a total membership of 920 women and men, operating across the LGAs. This was done under the Spotlight Initiative, which is funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations (UN), with the objective to eliminate all forms of VAWG.
According to the Adamawa State Ministry of Women Affairs, there were 149 cases of rape against women and girls between January and October 2021, in the State. Also the Child Protection Information Management System (CPIMS) data indicates that in the same year, there were 180 cases (136 female and 44 male survivors) of sexual abuse/violence against children (persons below 18 years of age).
The Doubeli Surveillance team which took up Amina’s case, has successfully managed 22 GBV cases within a year and is supporting the survivors (60 percent of whom are children), all through to recovery. They worked with communities and families to discourage stigmatization. For Amina’s case, the CST continues to work with law enforcement agents and the social welfare, to ensure that justice is served. In 2021, the CST gained recognition of a joint UN monitoring team which also commended the group as a model for promoting community-based structures in eliminating VAWG.