Rain for the Sahel and Sahara

Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN) forges partnerships with nomadic and rural desert peoples of West Africa to realize their ambitions for education and enduring livelihoods with a focus on empowering girls and women with learning and earning.
Oct 12, 2011

RAIN "Albaye" Artisans

Co-op Artisan Ouwa Ghoumour
Co-op Artisan Ouwa Ghoumour

This fall, some women from the artisan co-operative Albaye (formerly "Cool Water") had the chance to sell their hand crafted items at a craft fair in Agadez. Members of the co-operative paid for meals, transport and sale table rent with their own funds. The women chose on their own to attend the sale on RAIN’s behalf. The governor of Agadez, the Prefect and other dignitaries visted and made some purchases.  The group told them all about how RAIN helps them and they, in turn, invest in their children's education.

RAIN "Albaye" Co-op member Ouwa Ghoumour writes:

"I have been working with leather since I was a young child. This is actually a traditional and cultural activity that my family follows. My mother also works with leather and everything I've learned is soley from her. Together, we would create different styles of small and large wallets, especially the traditional Tuareg wallet called “Albaye” that women and men alike wear around their necks.

When I married, I began working on my own at home making the same style of wallets. But when RAIN came to Agadez, I began working on new kinds of items with my friends.

RAIN helps us find new designs and provides raw materials, and with these elements we make leather key rings, wallets for portable phones, passport purses, and other items. We learn better design techniques and how to market our products. RAIN helped us organize our Artisan Cooperative, now called "Albaye" in memory of my mother. This is quite a success story for us. In September of 2011, with the support of RAIN, Albaye made 40 small leather phone purses that were sold in the U.S. for 5,000 FCFA ($10) each, for a total of 200,000 FCFA ($400). Thanks to this sale, our cooperative made a profit of 120,000 FCFA ($240).  The cooperative will donate 50% of the proceeds, or 60,000 FCFA ($120), to Ibrahim Oumarou Sanda school, named after the Sultan of Agadez who built the school, and attended by very poor nomadic children. This contribution is a commitment we have been proud to make since we began working with RAIN.

I wish to thank RAIN and all the GlobalGiving donors who support RAIN’s activities in Niger."

RAIN has given the group an advance for materials towards the next order placed of 160,000 FCFA - 20,000 FCFA for each artisan. We look forward to seeing the new products they create and sharing them with our friends in the U.S.!

P.S. Don't forget - October 19th is the last Global Giving bonus day of the year.  Each donation to RAIN projects will be matched, up to $100,000. Take advantage of this chance to double your impact for nomadic families in West Africa.

Ouwa working.
Ouwa working.
Tuareg traditional "Albaye" wallet.
Tuareg traditional "Albaye" wallet.
Passport wallet.
Passport wallet.
Wallets
Wallets

Links:

Aug 29, 2011

Health Education of Mentors Pays Off!

Mentors in Iferouane
Mentors in Iferouane

Last fall, RAIN set out on a mission to train 25 mentors in the villages of Iferouane, Ingui and Gougaram about the most common diseases in their communities, good hygiene practices, raising awareness among the students and their parents about disease prevention, and spotting signs of illness for treatment as a pilot project in health education.  We're happy to report that since the project began, big strides have been achieved in our partner communities! 

  • Mentors in all three communities are now able to recognize early symptoms and are referring students for treatment and following up with parents.
  • Parents are increasingly bringing their children for treatment at first signs of illness.
  • School attendance has increased 16%-18% from last year. Since health services for children have been provided free of charge, families use the system, so that a child who is ill can avoid missing school for long periods. 
  • Health and hygiene practices by the students have greatly improved.
  • Within six months, the project raised awareness about health issues for more than 2,000 people and provided free medical care to 700 nomadic students. 

These accomplishments are especially significant when compared to just a few years ago, when nearby conflict debilitated the local health and education systems. Beyond the benefits of prevention and care, this project has helped bring things back to normalcy. Health can be a major obstacle to children attending school - with your help, RAIN plans to continue the education and care of mentors, children and their families alike to clear the way for healthy and educated nomadic communities! 

Mentor Hawa with student in Iferouane
Mentor Hawa with student in Iferouane
Clinic with medicines in Gougaram
Clinic with medicines in Gougaram

Links:

Jul 18, 2011

School Market Garden Update: The Tillaberi Region

Cabbages in Lemdou
Cabbages in Lemdou

Dear Friend,

Until recently, RAIN solely worked in the Agadez region of Niger, the heart of the nomadic desert. Due to expansion and growth (in great part because of friends like you), RAIN has been able to answer requests for gardens from communities in the Tillaberi region. Tillaberi is a densely populated region of 2,200,000 people, located a four hour drive away from the capital, Niamey. Communities in Tillaberi are among the most food insecure in all of Niger, yet many receive little or nor assistance. 

The five RAIN partner communities in Tillaberi are Lemdou, Tagantassou, Tangouchman, Bonfeba, and Ingui. Unlike Agadez, which is nearly all desert, Tillaberi borders the Sahel region, which has areas of green land, more conducive to agriculture. A primary goal of our market gardens is to build skills and improvements in sustainable communal agricultural practices. These remote pastoral communities have little experience in agriculture.  In Niger drought is common – during times of drought pasture land is sparse and nomadic herders lose their animals – often their only source of food and livelihoods.  They must gain skills raising crops to ensure future food security.

Skills which we seek to improve include community organization, building fences, installing and learning drip irrigation practices (new to much of Niger), biological pest control, crop rotation, sharing knowledge, harvesting, food storage and transport, marketing skills, and evaluating outcomes. 

Each garden comprises four parties that work together - a monitoring committee, the master gardener, RAIN staff, and most importantly, individual community members themselves. Together with the monitoring committee, RAIN staff will visit each market garden to assess progress, evaluate if the garden has reached self sustainability, and engage in dialogue for feedback.  The master gardener instructs the community on how to install, maintain and harvest the crops, and monitors the drip irrigation systems. The lion's share of contribution comes from the community - the parents, teachers, and leaders who come together and plant the garden, build fences, install the irrigation, and harvest and prepare the produce. 

One 1,000 square meter garden with drip irrigation can produce almost three tons of produce in a single growing season. This year, the Lemdou market garden produced 80kg of melons, 10kg of corn, 8k of tomatoes, 11kgs of lemons, 60kg of cabbage, 70kg of salad greens and 41kgs of potatoes, among other crops. The garden has created two months of meals for 146 students at the school, and generated 40,000 fcfa ($80) in school supporting income, which goes a long way in Niger.

Some RAIN market gardens are incorporating poultry for the first time, such as at Tagantassou, providing sources of protein through the eggs and meat for the children. 

In Niger, the next few months are know universally as "the hungry season."  Not so for RAIN partner communities in Tillaberi!  The families of these five villages extend their hearts and hands in gratitude to you for the important role you play in making food security a reality for them.  Tanmeert. 

 

 

 

 

 

Row of potatoes in Lemdou
Row of potatoes in Lemdou
Chickens at the Tagantassou garden.
Chickens at the Tagantassou garden.
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