Since 2012, Mercy Corps has been working in the most marginalized regions of Nigeria to deliver urgent, life-saving assistance and promote development. We partner with communities to help them recover and rebuild while addressing root causes of conflict, insecurity, and inequality. Every month we help ensure that more than 100,000 people have enough food to eat, and our work impacts the lives of over 600,000 people across the country.
Nigeria is the third-largest economy in Africa, with over 60 percent of its growing population under the age of 25, and a cultural and economic influence that is felt across the continent. Yet, insecurity, corruption and weak economic growth continue to undermine Nigeria’s development.
In the Northeast of Nigeria, civilians continue to bear the brunt of a conflict between the military and armed opposition groups that shows no signs of abating. Now in its ninth year, the resulting crisis has displaced millions of people, destroyed infrastructure and collapsed basic services. With over 7 million people still in need of urgent life-saving assistance, the food and nutrition crisis is of massive proportions.
In Nigeria’s Middle Belt region, a decades-old conflict over competition for natural resources has intensified. Thousands of people have been killed in inter-communal conflicts that are taking on religious dynamics, and hundreds of thousands have been displaced. Outbreaks of violence continue to pose security threats in Nigeria’s oil-producing South; and levels of crime, banditry, and kidnappings remain high nationwide.
At the same time, the oil-dependent Nigerian economy is not keeping pace with rapid population growth, and unemployment and poverty rates are on the increase. Half of Nigeria’s population of 180 million people live below the international poverty line.
This statistic skyrockets to over 75 percent in the agriculturally-dependent Northeast, where mass displacement and destruction of farmland has devastated opportunities to earn an independent income. The situation is particularly stark for women and young people, who often lack the skills or the networks to forge a new life.
Despite these challenges, the people of Nigeria are committed to building stronger futures. We’re there to help them address their short-term needs and to develop skills that they can use to improve their livelihoods.
With headquarters in the capital, Abuja, we have significant operations based out of Maiduguri in the North East, with dedicated teams permanently based in some of the most hard-to-reach locations in the country. Our deep understanding of the issues facing Nigeria is driven by the 90 percent of our staff that call Nigeria their lifelong home.
We help communities gain the skills needed to address tensions and prevent marginalized populations from being exploited and participating in destructive behaviors. At the same time, we respond to the immediate humanitarian needs of households affected by conflict through emergency assistance. We help communities to recover by helping to revitalize local markets and supplying farmers with seeds and tools. And we particularly focus on supporting young women, so they have better opportunities to positively impact their communities and country.
Our work in Nigeria helps people meet the needs they have now — like food, water, and shelter — along with programming that helps them to better prepare for the future. Here are some of our results:
- More than 17,000 adolescents have received support from one of our 650+ safe spaces.
- We're helping approximately 400,000 people to meet their urgent needs and build their resilience in northeast Nigeria.
- We're empowering 253,700 girls with improved financial literacy education and career guidance.
- We helped 5,100 adolescents receive their birth certificates so they can qualify for public services.