In 2008, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) engaged in a partnership process with Caritas Développement Niger (CADEV Niger) that illustrates important principles of CRS partnership. Both CADEV Niger and CRS are development agencies, part of the Catholic Church, and founded on Catholic Church doctrines putting into action the call to serve the poor. CRS prefers to partner with the local Catholic Church, usually through social action agencies such as CADEV Niger, because of a shared commitment to justice as an active and life-giving virtue that defends the dignity of all persons. This is key to achieving CRS’ first principle of partnership: CRS bases partnerships upon a shared vision for addressing people’s immediate needs and the underlying causes of suffering and injustice.
In Niger, the immediate needs of the population are compelling. Nigerians are threatened by chronic and transitory food insecurity, a result of inadequate physical and economic access to food and the inability to utilize food properly. In addition, drought, crop-damaging insects, epidemics, ethnic conflicts between nomadic and settled populations, and the limited capacity of Nigerian civil society all have a negative impact on development initiatives.
This case study demonstrates the practical application of CRS' partnership principles. CRS Niger and CADEV Niger (Caritas Niger), with the support of USAID's Food for Peace program, worked together to identify areas of CADEV Niger's organizational strengthening plan for CADEV Niger's human, material, and financial management, its institutional framework, and its access to and use of management tools. CADEV Niger, with CRS support, also worked to increase the capacity of field agents and volunteers, while simultaneously increasing the involvement of community members.