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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: 18,045,729 (July 2015 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. Today, CRS Niger has a staff of approximately 250 people working nationwide with local partners to provide essential services and improve short- and long-term access to food for vulnerable Nigeriens.

Simply having enough food and water is a challenge in Niger. CRS works to provide both immediate and sustainable solutions to food shortages. We work alongside farmers to establish better farming practices and teach business techniques, like how to connect with markets. These efforts help families suffering from chronic malnutrition improve their incomes and strengthen their resilience.

CRS Niger has responded to a variety of crises: providing emergency relief to refugees and displaced people affected by Boko Haram violence, delivering services to refugees from Mali, responding during food shortages and helping people affected by flooding. 

To help people increase their resilience against natural disasters, CRS Niger helps communities develop early warning systems that enable families to prepare for storms in advance. We also support community emergency response efforts and develop food security plans. 

In both our development and disaster relief programs, CRS Niger improves water, sanitation and hygiene practices. We have: established hygiene committees, distributed hygiene kits, delivered potable water, installed water tanks, dug boreholes, rehabilitated wells, and installed latrines, showers and hand-washing stations.

Fewer than 70% of Nigeriens are literate, and primary school enrollment is extremely low. Among our many education initiatives in Niger, we support adult literacy classes and help children of nomadic communities, especially girls, access education. 

CRS is also a leader in health in Niger, reducing deaths from malaria by distributing millions of long-lasting, insecticide-treated mosquito nets and reaching hundreds of thousands of children with preventative anti-malaria medicine. We train community health workers and teach families about malaria too. In addition, CRS provides comprehensive support to people with HIV and AIDS in the Dosso region.

CRS promotes women’s livelihoods through our Savings and Internal Lending Communities, or SILCs, which help people build their savings and access small loans or emergency grants. SILC groups strengthen communities and enable women to control their own finances, usually for the first time.

Finally, in all of our efforts, CRS Niger addresses the needs of vulnerable people discriminated against due to age, gender, illness or disability. We strive to help people meet their basic needs while working to create a foundation for long-term security, protection and community resilience.