Working with the community to help the most vulnerable people

Shelter kit distribution. OCHA.

‍Niger | 2021 | CBPF

Niger, Diffa commune. Maimouna is 35 years old and a mother of four. She lives in Awaridi site in Diffa commune. Following attacks by armed groups, Maimouna left  her village to look for a safe place for her and her children. The departure was abrupt, and she left all her belongings behind. Until now they have been living in very basic conditions and not fully protected from the weather.

In November 2021, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and local partner “Development for Well-Being” – DEMI-E, launched a project to assist people affected by crisis in the communes of Diffa and Toumour. Years of conflict in the Western Sahel have eroded security in Niger’s border regions and led thousands of displaced people to seek safety in host communities. In the Diffa Region, in the east, regular attacks by Boko Haram since 2014 and entrenched insecurity cause regular displacement and disrupt livelihoods The region is currently home to more than 250,000 displaced people, many of whom live in inadequate housing with no access to essential items, like blankets and soap.

The community worked with project staff to develop criteria for who should be prioritized for assistance. The community agreed these criteria during a village-wide meeting facilitated by CRS. After validating the criteria for vulnerable households, focus groups were organized with key decision-makers chosen by the community. With the help of project staff, they identified and classified households according to the criteria. The community agreed to prioritize aiding women-headed households, people living with sub-standard housing, and those caring for children under five.

Based on this, Maimouna and her children received a shelter kit with supplies to improve their home, essential household items and a small cash allowance to purchase other things her family needs.

With funding from the Regional Humanitarian Fund for West and Central Africa, a pooled fund that supports humanitarian assistance in the Sahel region,  the project reached 800 vulnerable households. An earlier needs assessment conducted by CRS in 2021 found that nearly 75 per cent of vulnerable people lived in sites that did not meet their needs for shelter and household supplies, and so assisting people to improve their shelter is a critical priority.

More information on the Regional Humanitarian Fund for West and Central Africa: