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CRS in Niger

With a life expectancy of 55 years and an adult literacy rate of only 29 percent, the United Nations Human Development Report ranks Niger 187th out of 187 countries. The majority of people in this large, arid country depend on subsistence farming for their food; however, year after year, successful livelihoods are severely limited by a number of factors. Roughly half of the people in Niger do not regularly have enough food to eat. In addition to chronic problems, recent crises such as droughts, floods and instability in neighboring countries have exacerbated problems in a country where challenges already run deep.


People Served: 6,186,934 (FY 2014: 3,570,968 direct; 2,615,966 indirect)

Population: 17,466,172 (July 2014 est.)

Size: 489,191 sq. mi.; slightly less than twice the size of Texas

CRS' History in Niger

Catholic Relief Services came to Niger in 1991. In 1996, with a growing portfolio of programs and increased funding, a full country program was established. Today, with approximately 250 national staff and eight international staff, CRS Niger works nationwide with local partners to improve short- and long-term access to food for vulnerable Nigeriens and provide other essential services to the poorest of the poor.

Simply having enough food and water is a problem in Niger. Farmers are taught agro-enterprise techniques such as how to identify markets and better farming practices. CRS works to increase immediate food access, improve incomes and strengthen long-term community resilience in large regions that suffer from chronic malnutrition.

CRS Niger has responded to a variety of crises: providing services to refugees from Mali, coordinating response projects during food shortages and helping those affected by seasonal flooding. 

In many projects, CRS Niger helps establish community-based early warning systems and responses to emergencies, which are responsible for engaging communities in developing comprehensive food security plans, recognizing vulnerability indicators and mitigating risks. 

CRS Niger works to improve and promote water, sanitation and hygiene practices as a core theme in both our development and disaster programs. Meanwhile, we have established hygiene committees, distributed hygiene kits, delivered potable water and installed water storage tanks, dug boreholes, rehabilitated wells, and installed latrines, temporary showers, and hand washing stations.

Less than 70 percent of Nigeriens are literate and primary school enrollment is drastically low. Catholic Relief Services implements a number of education initiatives in Niger, including adult literacy classes and working with nomadic communities to increase access to educational opportunities for children, especially girls. 

CRS is a leader in health care in Niger, in particular reducing deaths due to malaria. CRS has distributed millions of long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets, trained community health workers and conducted awareness campaigns to increase people's knowledge about malaria and is reaching hundreds of thousands of children with seasonal malaria chemoprevention. CRS works to serve the physical, social and spiritual needs of people with HIV and AIDS in the Dosso region of Niger.

CRS promotes women’s livelihoods through the establishment of Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC), which help members build useful lump sums that become available at a pre-determined time and gives them access to small loans or emergency grants. SILC groups build upon and reinforce social bonds among community members, especially women, providing a strong entry point for promoting women's access and control over financial resources - for the first time in most cases.

CRS Niger works to address the needs of those who are otherwise unable to secure means for survival, supporting those who are disadvantaged due to an external shock or due to socioeconomic circumstances such as age, gender, illness, disability or discrimination. CRS Niger strives to help people meet their basic needs while simultaneously working to create a foundation for longer term security, protection and community resilience.