Traditionally, I am not one to participate in competitions. However, when I first received the email about the 2020 Images of Research competition, asking for image entries, I immediately knew I needed to share my images of the conflict happening in northern Nigeria. I really didn’t enter expecting to win; I just wanted people to have a glimpse. Never in a thousand years did I imagine my image emerging as “the people’s choice”!

My research interests are in peace and conflict studies, and my PhD research seeks to understand the positive roles that businesses play in contributing to conflict prevention and peace promotion within a conflict region. Specifically, I want to explore whether the development achieved through the corporate social responsibility of businesses will help to sustain peace in north-east Nigeria.

The image for this blog post, entitled “Corporate ‘security’ responsibility” was taken on 17 March 2017. The image shows the aftermath of a camp housing over 6000 people being razed by fire. This happened less than 100 miles from where 276 schoolgirls were kidnapped 3 years earlier in Chibok. The girl pictured is taking in the last bit of memory from what was once her home. This is one of several similar occurrences happening within the region, where in some instances, entire hamlets or villages are razed to the ground or robbed during the night.

This is just a moment captured on camera, but over the last decade, north-east Nigeria has been under severe insurgency attacks from the ‘Boko Haram’ terrorists. The conflict has left over 2.3 million people displaced and thousands killed. The severe conditions necessitated the government and several international organisations to provide assistance to those affected. The lucky ones are placed in camps, where they rely on handouts from philanthropists, businesses and organisations involved in victims’ support.

However, through my research, I hope to explore the notion that businesses can be strong peacebuilding initiators through empowerment programmes, corporate social responsibility initiatives, or other more direct means, to prevent this in the future. Businesses are known to be a strong pillar of any society by providing economic activities, employment and so on, as their primary responsibilities.

Submitting my photograph to the Images of Research competition has given me a confidence boost about my research due to the enthusiasm, positive feedback and the votes I received. It showcased my research to a wider audience and has allowed me to appreciate the benefits and importance of public engagement in academia.

Moreover, I feel that for the particular case of my research, the Images of Research competition will bring a wider audience to see the global impact of MMU research, recognize the plight of conflict communities and appreciate the effort of businesses towards sustaining peace. If you get the opportunity, I would very much recommend taking part!

Jamila Makarfi is a PhD student with interests in peace and conflict studies, seeking to understand the positive roles that businesses play in contributing to peacebuilding.

Jamila’s image was named the People’s Choice in the 2020 Images of Research competition. The 2021 competition will launch soon. Check out the celebratory brochure and website here:

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