Niger in general suffers from severe food insecurity. In the Azawak, the abundant livestock, utilized for trade and for milk, curtailed food shortages in the region. In fact, the Azawak used to be the best pastoral land of West Africa, and the wealthiest region. Most of the livestock has perished over the past ten to fifteen years, therefore creating severe food insecurity and poverty for the populations.
Accentuating the problem is that the populations of the Azawak, being predominantly herders, have very little experience growing food. They therefore need training in agriculture, as livestock and herding can no longer be a reliable source of food or economic security.
- To provide food security for our populations living in all our borehole communities: to increase the number of meals from 1 to 3/day.
- To decrease severe malnutrition among children, particularly those under five.
- To increase the population’s autonomy regarding food in order to be less affected by unreliable exterior forces determining food access.
We have begun addressing these objectives with the following activities:
We have launched 4 cereal banks in the communities of Tchinwangari (2010), Tangarwashane (2010, relaunched in 2012), Ebagueye (2012) and Couloubade (2013). These cereal banks offer affordable grain to the community (in total, approximately 17,000 people are served by the cereal banks). We built buildings to stock the grain for the cereal banks, and also the animal fodder in Ebagueye and Couloubade.
The banks are managed by a small committee of women, and the profit returns to the bank to purchase additional grain. If properly managed, the banks can last many years.
Thanks to access to “affordable” grain in near proximity, a majority of families have increased the number of meals they have per day from one (or less) to three. Close to 12,000 and 15,000 women benefit from our food security programs.
Status: Ongoing. This project is meant to go from year to year. We continue to provide support to make sure things are run properly.
There are currently 2 community gardens in the communities of Tangarwashane (2011) and Ebagueye (2013). Another is planned for the community of Couloubade. The gardens are run by the womens’ cooperatives and school children (for the most part), and help all the families of the community have access to vegetables.
Without these gardens to provide fruits and vegetables, meals generally consist of a bowl of white rice, millet, or pasta. Fresh vegetables have improved the quality of meals and helped decrease malnutrition.
Furthermore, this is also a part of our “skills training” program as most members of our communities have little to no prior experience gardening.
Status: The project is ongoing in the communities. Our support continues, as we help with training and also provide a small amount of money to pay for diesel to water the garden.
Reforestation, including fruit trees
We have planted around 150 fruit trees in all of our communities, excluding Tchinwagari (we have planted new trees every year ever since 2011).
Fruit trees help in a variety of ways: they provide additional healthy food, much needed shade, and help reforestation initiatives indispensable for a region suffering from severe desertification.
Status: While a one-time gift, we plan on continuing this project on a year to year basis.