The first few weeks in a new placement are always a strange mix of getting to know knew things, becoming familiar with one’s route to work, with one’s neighbourhood, with where to buy things. My flat mate went away one weekend a couple of weeks back so a great opportunity to explore a bit, tidy up the flat etc. I took of early via taxi to Amigos Supermarket, one of the few in Abuja which is a 10 min, 250-300Naira taxi ride away. This may well not be a weekly occurrence but I wanted to explore the costs of buying meat, lamb and chicken, and to stock up on some basic staples like chick peas, and to buy a decent cooking pan as the ones in the flat are all rather flimsy and far too big for one person cooking.
All volunteers in Nigeria get the same living allowance, 36,000N per month. As usual with VSO this can be paid in full or in part by VSO, in full or in part by our partner organisation. Mine is paid in full by my partner organisation. This has meant waiting for an entire month before getting paid. VSO normally pay quarterly in advance, but my partner pays monthly in arrears. VSO’s predeparture instructions say to bring about 100-150GBP to get yourself through this first month. The timing of my arrival was such that VSO paid me a 2 weeks allowance for the half of March, so between that and my GBP I’ve managed through April, but only just. The main expense has been buying an internet dongle at 12,000N and a month’s online usage which will cost me 6000N. As I mentioned in my previous post I have since found out that I will not have to continue to pay for this. The exchange rate is 250N = 1GBP.
Abuja like most capital cities is expensive. The volunteers placed here get an additional allowance over and above our living allowance which is earmarked for travel. Mine is 17,600N .The biggest regular expense is getting to and from work. This takes me about 10-15mins by taxi and the cost seems to have regularly settled at 300N each way. This means that if I have to use taxis every day including the weekends to go to market or shops, then a month of 30 days will completely use up the travel allowance.
Food is the next biggest expenditure. Here’s some typical prices
Fruit: Apples large 150N each, Apples small 70N each, Banana 60N each, Pears 150N each, Mangoes 150N each
Vegetables: Cucumber (about 4-6in) 70-100N, Lettuce 100N, Onions 6 large red 200N, Tomatoes 200N for about a kg, Ginger 3 good sized pieces 50N
Nuts: a small packet of groundnuts , about 1/2 cupful, 50N
Drinks: Carton of fruit juice 250N, Small bottle of water 70-80N, Soda, coke, fanta, etc 150N, Tin of milk powder 700N, Tin of evaporated milk 150N
Snacks: packet of Digestive biscuits 500N, 4 small pots of yogurt 760N
Breakfasts: Oats 500g 480N, Alpen 1200N
Protein: tin of tuna fish 270N, lamb 2700N per kg, chicken 1000 per kg, minced beef 1600N per kg, egg 30N each
cheese, cheddar 200g 870N
Carbs: spaghetti 120N, rice 600N, sugar cubes 220N
Household: Bathroom/kitchen cleaner 700N, dish cloths 700N, towel 1500N, frying pan 2900N, milk pan 2200N
So a typical budget looks something like
Yes , its tight!