Access to water makes it possible for livelihood activities to begin. Prior to having a borehole, people spent all their time looking for water, and had no time to take on “jobs” or engage in other activities that would allow them to make revenue.
Extreme poverty overshadows each of our communities. In the past, the people relied on their livestock for their survival. Without their livestock, they have little to help them survive on a day to day basis. Revenue for things such as food, clothing, medical help, etc. is non-existent.
Many skilled artisans live in our communities, but they simply do not have the venues to use their crafts to help elevate them out of poverty.
Other community members, accustomed to the life of herding, have few no skills. With some assistance they can gain skills to help them earn revenue and live a better life.
We want to create vibrant communities that are elevated out of extreme poverty and become more self sufficient. In the past, people have relied on migration to find small jobs. This leads to a variety of other problems, such as exposure to extremism, disease, prostitution, etc.
We seek to help the people grow within their village, rather than having to leave to find opportunities elsewhere. We focus primarily on women, helping them have access to revenue. We also think it is important to grow the skills of all the members of our communities, so that they have additional opportunities for earning income, while gaining pride and helping serve their communities in useful ways.
Once our newly trained community members become experts in a certain field, we use them as trainers in new communities, thereby validating their skills and helping them gain additional income.
We’ve begun addressing these objectives through the following activities:
Our focus centers primarily on women. Women take care of the family. Helping them is the most certain way of making sure the children are well taken care of, and that skills are passed on from one generation to the next.
We have helped women organize themselves in Tangarwashane (since 2010), Ebagueye (2012), and Couloubade (2015) to support all women-led activities (sewing cooperatives, artisan cooperatives, boutiques, gardens) and establish their own initiatives.
Approximately 100 women (including 25 “young women”) are part of the Ebaugueye cooperative, and approximately 45 women are part of the Tangarwashane cooperative. Kijigari already had a cooperative including over 100 women. We work with them on a regular basis to strengthen their activities, which include a gardening and sewing cooperative.
Women members pay a monthly membership fee, which is managed by the cooperative management committee. This money goes toward helping to complement the projects that Amman Imman has initially financed (i.e. purchasing new materials for the artisan cooperative, fixing the sewing machines, paying the grain miller, etc.)
Many women and men in our communities are artisans. They make beautiful crafts, which they sell primarily to other community members, to other non-artisans communities, in the city, etc. Some men in the villages of Kijigari and Ebagueye sell their crafts internationally (primarily in France). This craft industry has suffered due to diminished/nonexistent tourism in Agadez and Niamey.
While we would like to focus on both men and women, our cooperatives have been aimed toward helping the women artisans of Ebagueye (since 2010), and Couloubade (2015).
Since a primary difficulty for the artisans is purchasing materials to make their crafts, we focus on purchasing materials for a cooperative once it has been established. The materials are then made available to cooperative members (who pay a monthly membership fee) at a low price. The money is reinserted into the cooperative to purchase additional materials.
We would like to eventually help create a better market for our artisans, perhaps internationally. We are currently developing an initiative to make this happen.
The women have said that participating in the artisan cooperative has greatly helped them have ongoing income to support their families with clothing, food and medicine. It has also helped them purchase livestock, which they use as a “bank account”.
Status: ongoing in Ebagueye and Couloubade
Livestock distribution accompanied by fodder bank
Livestock is like a bank account for the populations of the Azawak. They are the wealth of the people. The more animals they have, the better off they are in case of an emergency (they can sell their animal when they need money for food, clothing, etc.). Furthermore, animals provide additional food security by providing milk, and eventually meat.
We have implemented livestock programs called Herds for Economic Resiliency (HERds) in three villages. The programs establishes a livestock loaning program and fodder bank, and trains women in animal husbandry best practices.
- During June 2017, 123 goats were distributed to 41 women in Tangarwashane and surrounding villages. Each woman received 3 goats.
- At the beginning of 2014, we provided 100 goats to 50 of the most vulnerable women of Ebagueye and Couloubade (two female goats per women). These were vaccinated and branded. The women beneficiaries were chosen by the women’s cooperative, and were meant to represent the most needy families in the main village and surrounding communities.
- The women keep the goats for a year and/or untl the goats had at least two babies. A female baby and the mother were then transferred over to a new set of women at the beginning of 2015.
- In order to support the women that obtained the goats, we set up a fodder bank, which has been restocked 4 times by Amman Imman, and also by the revenue made from fodder sales.
- The women claim that having the goats has increased the milk they have been able to give to their children.
As their herds grow thanks to the initial two mothers given, they will be able to use their goats as income for various needs that they may have. The women with goats are “proud” as now they have some security and feel even wealthier than their husbands.
We have been conducting management training for men and women in all of our communities since 2007. Management skills are crucial, not only for the projects that we set up, but for daily activities in general, and as the communities grow with new activities.
Designated men and women, who have been elected to the various management committees (borehole, cereal bank, women’s cooperative, etc.), are trained to manage their various projects at a financial level and technical level (borehole, grain mills).
Projects that have required management training include: boreholes, grain mills, boutique, cereal banks, women’s cooperative (including all women’s activities: artisan, sewing, gardening, etc.)
Increasing women’s skills is key to the development of the communities.
We try to focus on skills that will 1) help the women in their day to day life, and 2) that can bring them income.
The women of Ebagueye expressed interest in a sewing cooperative, which we launched early 2014. Approximately 40 women are a part of the cooperative. They have been taught sewing, knitting, etc. They have expressed great pride in making their own clothing, which they make for themselves, and have sold to other community members and people in other communities (including in Couloubade village).
Earning income and increasing their skills improves their economic security and pride. It also saves them time, as they no longer have to travel far distances to purchase clothes.
We will be launching a sewing cooperative in Couloubade before the end of the year. Also, we would like to start a sewing cooperative in Tangarwashane, but do not have the funding yet for this. We support as we can the already existing cooperative in Kijigari.
We built a community boutique (building, and initial supply of goods) in Ebagueye in 2013, and in Couloubade in 2014. The boutique is run by the women’s cooperative and provides a job to several women that run the boutiques.
The boutiques are perceived as greatly beneficial because they provide necessary goods nearby at an affordable price, and they offer employment.
Status: We continue to provide ongoing advice and support to the management of the boutiques.