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CRS in Nigeria

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and one of the continent’s major oil producers. Nevertheless, Nigeria faces the enormous challenges of overcoming extreme poverty and hunger. More than 70 percent of Nigerians live below the poverty line. Nigeria is also besieged by violent conflicts which have resulted in displacements and loss of lives and property.

In the last months of 2012, Nigeria experienced massive flooding in more than 19 of its 36 states. Since most Nigerians are farmers, the flooding sharply increased general suffering as farmlands were completely destroyed.

The current security situation in the northern part of the country has exacerbated living conditions for people living there. The Boko Haram insurgency has resulted in a highly insecure environment in northeastern Nigeria; this has led to an increasing number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). There are challenges of food security, and water, sanitation and hygiene for the displaced people. Community members and health workers are vulnerable to attacks. This context has led to a shortage of capable health care workers, limited availability of health care services and supplies, and limited community member access and mobility to health care facilities.


People Served: 9,583,467 (FY 2014: 1,498,899 direct; 8,084,568 indirect)

Population: 177,155,754 (July 2014 est.)

Size: 356,700 sq mi; about the size of California, Nevada, and Arizona

CRS' History in Nigeria

Catholic Relief Services began working in Nigeria since the 1960s. CRS was active during the 1967 civil war in the area of emergency response. After the war, the Nigerian government asked CRS and other international development agencies to leave the country. Thirty years later, with the return of democracy in Nigeria after years of military rule, CRS returned to Nigeria by the invitation of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN). CRS work now includes responses to the increasing HIV and AIDS challenges, plus health, governance, orphans and vulnerable children, agriculture and emergency/disaster response programming.

CRS returned to work in Nigeria in 2000. CRS and our partners work in 19 of the country's 36 states, demonstrating the agency’s extensive grassroots networks and tremendous capacity to reach the rural poor. CRS has worked for more than 10 years on projects related to HIV/AIDS, support to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs), and institutional capacity-building. These efforts include AIDSRelief, which involved 33 local partner treatment facilities, the Catholic Church, and other community-based organizations and government institutions. Collectively, these projects operated in 24 states, across six geo-political zones. From 2006 to 2011, CRS and partners implemented the SUN (Capacity for Scaling Up the Nigerian Faith-Based Response to HIV/AIDS) Project with support from USAID. Under SUN, 26,000 OVC were served, seven government OVC Desk Officers trained on OVC service delivery strategies, and nine faith-based organizations had their program technical capacity strengthened. Presently, CRS also hosts the country secretariat of CORE Group Partners Project (CGPP) that supports Nigeria’s Polio eradication and Routine Immunization (RI) strengthening efforts at the community level. This is an $8M project funded by USAID in five northern states where children under five are at high risk of contracting the polio virus.

Nigeria is the largest producer of cassava in the world, so cassava is a focus of Catholic Relief Services’ work in this country. We help farmers improve revenue and food supply with high quality certified cassava stems through a traceable value chain. (Cassava is often propagated by planting stems, not seeds.)

The goal is to increase cassava productivity for 35,000 family farms by improving how they produce cassava and helping them commercialize stem production. Through the program, seed entrepreneurs (also called "stem sellers") use collaborative public–private extension services to bundle their stems with other products such as fertilizer and herbicide. They also provide agricultural advice. By bundling their products and services, they add value to what they offer and create more opportunities in the value chain for increased production, sales and commercial opportunities.

CRS Nigeria’s agricultural program started in Nigeria in 2009 with the implementation of the Emergency Rice Initiative (ERI) funded by USAID as a two-year multi-country project aimed at boosting rice production in four countries in West Africa (Ghana, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal). In Nigeria, CRS implemented ERI with AfricaRice, the International Center for Soil Fertility and Agricultural Development, the National Cereal Research Institute Badeggi and the Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority. CRS used its Seed Voucher and Fair approach to support 10,000 small-scale farmers gain increased access to improved rice varieties. CRS trained government extension staff on the use of the well-being analysis tool for improved farmer targeting and registration as project participants. CRS scaled-up technology dissemination to hard-to-reach farmers through its extensive grass-root networks. CRS enhanced agricultural productivity by improving soil fertility management practices, land and water management in rice farming systems; introduced integrated pest management practices; and promoted high yielding rice varieties. CRS used community video shows to heighten technology dissemination to farmers on improved rice production.