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Since October 2023, WWoW has initiated a pilot phase of its Backup tool to combat conflits related sexual violence  in northeastern Nigeria
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Nigeria, a federal state located in the Gulf of Guinea, is the most populous country in Africa and the continent's leading economic power. However, this African giant has been plagued by instability since the early 2000s with the emergence of armed groups on its territory.

One region has been particularly hard hit, the north-east of Nigeria. Borno State, the furthest from the centre of power, Abuja, has been experiencing an insurgency by the armed group Boko Haram and its factions since 2009. Today, several armed groups are active in the region, and Borno State is experiencing a serious humanitarian crisis. 

The conflict has left more than 40,000 people dead and over 2.5 million displaced in the region. Civilians are particularly hard hit by the fighting between the regular army and insurgent militias. As to often, women and children have become the direct victims of this fighting. 

All parties to the conflict have committed acts of violence against civilians, and as in many conflicts, sexual violence has been used as a weapon of terror. Sexual violence is used everywhere, all the time, whether in Boko Haram camps, refugee camps, prisons or villages. Sexual violence is used to terrorise civilians, but also for political purposes. Women and girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram group are sexually exploited in the camps, but also promised to deserving fighters as a "reward". The Nigerian military forces take advantage of the difficulties faced by these women to commit sexual violence in the form of sexual blackmail. 

While women and girls are the main victims of such violence, men are too. It is important to remember that the stigma attached to male victims of sexual violence is even greater. Today, it is virtually impossible to put a figure on the number of men who are victims of this violence in the region.


With the exception of major events such as the abduction of the Chibok girls in April 2014, this conflict has received relatively little attention from the international media, yet the victims continue to come forward in silence. Survivors of sexual violence receive very little assistance in Nigeria for a number of reasons: strong stigmatisation by Bornouan society, lack of confidence in the government forces' judicial and security system, etc. In addition, the perpetrators are almost never brought to justice and the crimes go unpunished, despite the work of certain organisations, such as the Grassroots Researchers Association, in documenting them. 


Although international and national organisations are trying to identify the victims and the abuses committed in Borno State, these efforts are being made in isolation, and there is no guarantee that survivors will be supported and assisted, leaving many victims with unfulfilled expectations.


In June 2023, WWoW, in consortium with Librairies Without Borders, won the "Humanitarian Innovation" call for projects issued by the Crisis and Support Centre (CDCS) of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Europe (MEAE). BSF and WWoW decided to join forces to work together on a common theme, namely the development of technologies and contextualised online and offline content to prevent and combat conflicts and crises related sexual violence, by relying on civil society and local communities. The project began on 1 November 2023 and will run for 18 months.


After testing BackUp in the proof of concept phase in Burundi, Rwanda and Guinea-Conakry, the deployment of BackUp in North-East Nigeria constitutes the first medium-term deployment of BackUp in the field, in its final version and according to the deployment methodology developed by WWoW.  

The deployment of BackUp and the Ideas Cube (BSF) in the region should give survivors of sexual violence a place to speak out and access information on conflict-related sexual violence, facilitate their access to care services, and secure the information collected via the BackUp tool. The project also aims to better identify victims and their needs, and to document abuses in order to support the justice process and informed advocacy. Civil society organisations find it difficult to bring perpetrators of conflict-related sexual violence to justice due to a lack of expertise and resources. Even when they manage to do so, they still face obstacles in providing adequate medical, psychosocial and socio-economic support.  This project aims to support their capacities, but also to develop the justice and documentation aspects of these crimes, as well as their modus operandi.


This project in Northern Nigeria is part of WWoW's overall policy of developing accessible, functional and agile tools to better document and give a voice to survivors of conflict and crisis-related sexual violence. 

More specifically, the project funded by the French Crisis and Support Centre aims to : 

  1. Enable victims of sexual violence, or a third party, to share information about a crime in a secure manner via BackUp. 

  2. To enable victims, even in the most remote areas, to report and be identified thanks to the development of an offline version of BackUp, based on BSF's offline internet facilities.

  3. Enable victims of serious crimes to access care services thanks to the mapping of health services (carried out by WWoW teams) in Maiduguri and the surrounding area.

  4. Enable anyone to access contextualised content on conflict-related sexual violence in the region, via BackUp's new informative functionality (under development) and BSF's digital libraries.

  5. Collecting, storing and securing information on the Back Office, a criminal analysis tool developed by WWoW, in order to ensure the inalterability and non-repudiation of evidence.

  6. Centralising information collected on sexual violence abuses in the region, in order to produce reports and build advocacy with the ultimate aim of influencing public policy.

  7. Build the capacity of survivor and civil society networks; 

  8. Coordinate needs with international players, in particular with the office of the SRSG's Special Representative for the Prevention and Combating of Sexual Violence, as well as with the Mukwege Foundation and the UN bodies present.

  9. Contribute to legal proceedings at both national and international level. 

What actions have been taken?

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The joint WWoW and BSF teams carried out an initial mission from 11 to 18 February 2024. 

The project began on 1 November 2023 and will run for 18 months.

It involves a full-time project manager, an analyst, two consultants and a trainee assigned to this particular project, as well as substantial support from WWoW's founding president. On site, WWoW works closely with the GrassRoot Researchers Association and a focal point responsible for deploying BackUp in the communities. WWoW is also involving survivors of the conflict in northeast Nigeria, as well as a Zimbabwean survivor, to share her experience in workshops.  

A major conference bringing together all the stakeholders will be organised around this project in June or September 2024 in Maiduguri. 


A preliminary field mission was carried out between 11 and 18 February 2024 in the city of Maiduguri, in Borno State, north-east Nigeria, by two WWoW experts and two BSF staff. This first mission provided an opportunity for exchanges with survivors, religious and traditional representatives, civil society organisations and international organisations. It also made it possible to identify urgent needs and areas for the deployment of BackUp and BSF's Ideas Cube, as well as to determine general needs in terms of preventing and combating sexual violence.

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This project in northeast Nigeria is an important pilot phase aimed at scaling up the deployment of the BackUp tool. This pilot phase (undertaken on a smaller scale in Ukraine and the DRC) follows a series of proof-of-concept phases carried out between 2018 and 2021 in Libya, Rwanda, Burundi and Guinea Conakry. These proof-of-concept phases validated the operationality of the tool and finalised its current form. These phases were financed by AFD's Innovation Department and Luxembourg's Business Partnership Facility.

Within this framework, and since 2017, WWoW has been working with its exclusive partner IntechLux in charge of the development and maintenance of the BackUp tool. 


  • By drawing on BSF's off-line Internet facilities, WWoW will be able to develop an offline version of the BackUp tool, which will now be accessible in areas with little or no connection.

  • WWoW is also strengthening the prevention aspect of the BackUp tool by adding a new feature enabling users to access informative content.

  • The project also aims to forge links with survivors, in particular, so that they can share their experiences and needs and make their voices heard at international level. 

  • The deployment will help to anchor WWoW's actions in the region and, in the long term, initiate wider deployment throughout the Sahel and Gulf of Guinea region. 

  • Lastly, it will contribute to the development of an "investigation" model for sexual crimes, currently being deployed in another area, with the aim of putting in place a methodology for rapidly documenting the commission of sexual crimes during abuses and alerting and fuelling legal proceedings through the rapid gathering of evidence. 

[1] Nigéria Watch,, 2024
[2] INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP, “Nigeria: Women and the Boko Haram Insurgency”, 5 décembre 2016


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