Great Step Initiative Recognized by UNHCR Country Rep for Nigeria

Award give to GSI for her outstanding work

Ms. Chansa Kapaya

Madam Chansa Kapaya Praises Great Step Initiative for Outstanding Refugee Support in Nigeria

After 4 impactful years as UNHCR’s Country Representative, Madam Chansa Kapaya departs Nigeria with admiration for the resilience of millions forced to flee their homes. She led UNHCR’s response to an escalating crisis that has left over 2 million Nigerians internally displaced.

Arriving in 2019, Madam Kapaya confronted staggering humanitarian challenges stoked by a deadly insurgency spilling refugees across borders. She rallied her team to scale up vital assistance even as violence uprooted more Nigerian families. Partnering with the government and local organizations, she expanded relief efforts and amplified voices of displaced communities.  

Madam Kapaya oversaw aid delivery to displaced Nigerians in hard-to-reach areas, providing food, shelter and healthcare to innocent civilians displaced by clashes between insurgents and security forces. She facilitated additional funding and spearheaded cash transfer programs enabling vulnerable Nigerians to support themselves with dignity during displacement.  

As she passes the baton, Madam Kapaya leaves the UNHCR operation in Nigeria as a lifeline for millions robbed of their homes but not their courage. Her efforts brought hope and global attention to one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The outgoing UNHCR Country Representative for Nigeria, Ms. Chansa Kapaya is a seasoned humanitarian and diplomat who has worked for UNHCR for over three decades in various capacities and in a number of countries in Southern, Eastern, West Africa and at UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to her appointment as Representative for UNHCR Nigeria in March 2020, she served as UNHCR Representative in Tanzania after Ghana in the same capacity.While bidding farewell to her role in Nigeria, she decided to acknowledge and appreciate the efforts of various organizations and persons that contributed to the huge success of her mission. Among those recognized was the Great Step Initiative, a prominent refugee-led organization that has played a crucial role in providing support and assistance to refugees, asylum-seekers in Nigeria. In this blog post, we will delve into the commendable work carried out by the Great Step Initiative and explore its impact on the lives of those it serves.

Great Step Initiative's Thematic Areas:
The Great Step Initiative has focused its efforts on several thematic areas that are vital for the well-being and empowerment of displaced individuals in Nigeria. These areas include:

1. Mental Health & Psycho- Social Support:
Recognizing the immense psychological toll and trauma experienced by refugees during the war and while on the way for safety, the Great Step Initiative has been instrumental in providing psycho-social support services. Through counselling sessions, group therapy, and awareness campaigns, they have helped individuals cope with trauma, anxiety, and depression resulting from their displacement.

2. Child Protection:
Children and women are often the most vulnerable victims in conflict and displacement. The Great Step Initiative has prioritized child protection by establishing safe spaces where children can receive education, engage in recreational activities, and access essential services. They also advocate for policies that safeguard children's rights and work towards reuniting separated families.We adhere entirely to the United Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

3. Gender-Based Violence:
Addressing gender-based violence is another critical aspect of the Great Step Initiative's work. They provide survivors with safe spaces, medical care, legal support, and counselling services. Additionally, they conduct awareness campaigns to challenge cultural harmful gender norms and promote gender equality within communities.

4. Preventive Health & Sanitation:
Recognizing the increased risk of disease outbreaks in displacement settings, the Great Step Initiative has implemented preventive health and sanitation programs. They ensure access to clean water, promote hygiene practices, and provide healthcare services to prevent the spread of diseases among vulnerable populations.

Impact on Refugees:
The steadfast support and unwavering commitment of the Great Step Initiative have had a significant impact on the lives of refugees, asylum-seekers in Nigeria. By addressing their immediate needs and providing long-term solutions, the organization has helped restore hope and dignity to those who have been uprooted from their homes.

Through their psycho-social support programs, the Great Step Initiative has empowered individuals to rebuild their lives by equipping them with positive coping mechanisms and resilience. By prioritizing child protection, they have ensured that children affected by displacement have access to education and a safe environment to grow and thrive. Their efforts in combating gender-based violence have provided survivors with the necessary support to heal and reintegrate into society. Through their effort a girl trafficked from Adagom 1 refugee settlement to Mali was brought back and a young boy of 16 was also trafficked from Adagom 3 refugee settlement to the cocoa farms in Boki local government area was brought back and he has resumed school. Lastly, their preventive health and sanitation initiatives have contributed to reducing the risk of disease outbreaks among vulnerable populations.

Conclusion:
The recognition bestowed upon the Great Step Initiative by Madam Chansa Kapaya, the outgoing UNHCR Country Representative for Nigeria, highlights the organization's invaluable contributions to refugee support in the country. Through their thematic areas of psycho-social & mental health support, child protection, gender-based violence prevention, and preventive health & sanitation, they have made a lasting impact on the lives of displaced individuals. The Great Step Initiative serves as an inspiring example of how dedicated organizations can positively influence the well-being and future prospects of those affected by displacement.