It Takes a Village: Mobilizing Communities to Support Nigeria’s Most Vulnerable Children


Waning Social Support Structures

Nigeria is home to more than 17 million orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) who struggle daily to access food, shelter, education, care, and support. In recent years, the community and family support networks that traditionally support these children have been eroded by the nation’s high HIV prevalence, widespread poverty, and destructive political conflict. The existing social support systems are severely limited by insufficient funding and resources as well as inadequate staff capacity. Without family, community, or government support, one million Nigerian children die each year before their fifth birthday. Those that survive often do so in dire conditions.

Recruiting and Training Community Leaders

In 2009, to strengthen support for Nigerian youth, PEPFAR began funding USAID’s Community-Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS) project in Nigeria. Led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH) in partnership with Africare, the CUBS team spent five years building community support networks in 11 states.

CUBS worked with 38 civil society organizations (CSOs) to form child protection committees (CPCs), tasked with protecting and improving the well-being of vulnerable children in their communities. Each CSO recruited 10 to 15 leaders from traditional ruling councils, land-lord associations, religious groups, and market associations to form their committees. CUBS then trained these leaders in advocacy, leadership, community and resource mobilization, child protection, and OVC needs.