smiling woman facing camera in Nigeria

Home and Livelihood Assistance Help Displaced Nigerian Families

Photo by Grace Yakubu/CRS

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For as long as she can remember, Maryam Ali lived a comfortable life in Ajiri village with her family, her husband and three children in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State. To help support their family, she sold bean cakes at the local market. But in 2009, after an insurgency began, the security situation grew increasingly alarming. Maryam would often have to run home from the market during armed attacks.

In 2017, she and her family were forced to flee their home. With nowhere to live, they took refuge in her grandmother’s home. While the house was a place of solace for Maryam and her family, the structure was in a state of disrepair. The roof had fallen apart. There were no windows or doors, and the walls were riddled with cracks and holes.


woman looks out window in Nigeria

Maryam Ali opens her new window, showing newly plastered walls and a new roof that was installed at her home in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State as part of CRS’ THRIVE project.

Photo by Grace Yakubu/CRS


“The building was not good; we lived with rats and lizards,” she says.

Maryam was not alone. Nearly 600,000 people who have been affected by the conflict, including internally displaced persons, returnees and vulnerable host community families, are forced to live in overcrowded settlements and in structures that do not meet minimum living standards, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarians Affairs.

Unable to afford the repairs, Maryam’s family managed the best they could. She remained hopeful and prayed for support.

Then, one day, the family was visited by staff members from Catholic Relief Services’ Transitioning Households to Recovery from Vulnerability, or THRIVE, project, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Aid’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. The THRIVE team surveyed the house and identified needed repairs.

Three months later, Maryam's grandmother's house had been renovated. The home now has a new door, window, roofing and plastered walls. 

“Honestly things have changed for me and my family,” Maryam says, smiling. “Where we sleep now is now better and safer. We are very happy”. 


woman sits outside home in Nigeria

Maryam Ali sits in front of her house that underwent repairs as part of the THRIVE project.

Photo by Grace Yakubu/CRS


The safe and dignified shelter was not the only support she received. As part of the THRIVE project, which provides a variety of services to families in need, Maryam’s family received household necessities like water containers, soap and flashlights, as well as food assistance. Maryam also enrolled in kitchen garden training and was given agricultural tools and seeds, as well as training on how to maintain and continue growing her garden.

“I was taught how to till the ground, how to make local manure using cow dung, ash and charcoal,” she says. “I planted tomatoes and hibiscus.”

While demonstrating to community volunteers how she waters her garden, Maryam shares how the program taught her the importance of producing her own food. She is appreciative of the support from the THRIVE project, noting how committed the community volunteers have been in checking up on her.

“What more can one ask for? We have been able to get food from the money we would have spent renovating the house. I was given cash to rear livestock and start our little garden,” she says.

About the THRIVE Project

Transitioning Households to Recovery from Vulnerability is a two-year program funded by USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance to provide humanitarian assistance with the goal of initiating early recovery in Borno State, Nigeria.

The project, leveraging experience and best practices, addresses a variety of needs based on participants’ stated requirements. Its locally-based approach helps participants move from lifesaving assistance to life-building support.

THRIVE is implemented as a consortium by CRS, Mercy Corps, Women in the New Nigeria, Salient Humanitarian Organization and Justice Development Peace Committee.