After existing for many years as a unit of the Department of the Church and Society of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, Caritas Nigeria was re-established as a juridical person in September, 2010.
It serves as an umbrella organisation, coordinating and supporting this network of provincial and diocesan institutions to implement programmes based on local needs. Its staff of more than 70 people works in two regional offices and a head office in Abuja. There are 54 dioceses in the country, grouped into 9 provinces, and the overall action is addressed not only to an estimated national Catholic population of about 30 million but to persons in most need, regardless of creed, race or nationality.
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Caritas Nigeria’s initial strategic plan (2010-2015) listed four thematic areas of intervention: good governance, health, education and emergency response, with equality between men and women as a cross cutting area of focus. After a strategy review process in August 2012, agriculture (including livelihoods) and water/sanitation (WASH) were added as thematic growth areas.
The organisation carries out different projects in these areas of intervention. For instance, its SUSTAIN project in the health sector is a comprehensive HIV treatment programme, including prevention from mother to child transmission of HIV. About 80 000 persons have been enrolled to benefit from these services.
On agricultural, a project is GIRMA (Growing Incomes and Rural Markets in Agriculture) in the Jigawa and Sokoto States. GIRMA started in July 2013 and will improve the livelihoods of 294,000 vulnerable households. Households will adopt improved agricultural practices and diversify income. Vulnerable groups will have increased revenue and able to access appropriate financial services. Households will have adequate food and nutrition and improved hygiene. Also extremely vulnerable households will receive cash transfers and the Local Government Authority will have increased capacity to implement poverty reduction programmes.
Caritas Nigeria works mainly with Catholic Relief Services and CAFOD, although there has been recent support from other Caritas members: Scotland, Japan, Korea, Italy and Spain.