A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to travel to Niger with Mercy Corps, and I wanted to send you an update on the situation people are facing there right now and the support they are receiving because of your generosity.
I spent two days visiting villages in Ouallam, a region in western Niger that was at the epicenter of the food crisis in 2012. Unfortunately, drought returned again this past fall, and the vast fields of millet, their staple crop, barely grew. It is brown and dry and empty as far as you can see. In Tolkoboye Fondobon village, the women told me that most households only have enough food to eat one meal a day until the next harvest in September.
But they were also eager to show me their new sources of hope and pride — the goats they received from Mercy Corps and the savings they have accumulated in the village savings and loans groups we helped them form. Both of these assets will allow the women to buy food in the market when they need it most this lean season. It's the first time in many of their lives that they've had the resources to help their families themselves.
These women struggle just to eat every day, but they are so strong. I spent some time with one woman named Santou. I was so happy to see that the two goats that Mercy Corps gave her over a year ago have now turned into five. Though she worries about the bad harvest, she is focused on her animals and what they can provide with her hard work — an income that is not dependent on the unpredictable rain.
That's what I saw over and over throughout my visit — communities asking for the opportunity to work hard to help themselves. And a team who is dedicated to finding the solutions that work best in these harsh conditions. I hope you will accept my sincerest thanks for your support on behalf of families in the Sahel. This is another difficult time in Niger, but without you, Mercy Corps would not be able to help families through it.
You can continue to make a difference by:
Hawa and her 6-year-old daughter, Ramatou, are bracing themselves for what’s to come: the grinding pain of hunger and the weakness and vulnerability to sickness and disease that come along with it. Drought has ruined their crops. The lean season between harvests is always difficult, but the millet they rely on for nutritious porridge and pancakes barely grew last year. The family has already eaten what little they were able to salvage from the meager harvest. Many days there is only a bowl of wilted lettuce for Hawa to feed her little girl — and it will be six long months before any crops grow again. Hawa says, "Every day, we will have to just eat less if we don't find food. We are very hungry, that's why we are asking for help."
In the West African nation of Niger where they live, their situation is all too familiar. Sixty-six percent of the population faces severe food shortages. Over 13 percent of children under five are acutely malnourished. To save lives, please act now.Join us by donating today to prevent hunger from claiming countless lives — and destroying families’ hopes for a healthy future. You have already brought lifesaving relief. Thank you! Your donations have saved lives by providing stronger seeds suitable for drier conditions that yield new crops like beans and peanuts and help families eat a diverse, nutritious diet. Your support helped deliver goats that became a vital source of income and milk, and helped launch village saving and loan groups that ensured women have a financial safety net to buy the food they need. With your help, Hawa started a business selling peanut oil and has been growing her herd of goats. But now she’s worried. The persistent droughts have destroyed the crops she depends on; she has nothing to sell and little to keep her goats healthy. Not only does she wonder every minute where her daughter’s next meal will come from, but she also fears that her hard work to better their lives will be lost.
That's why Hawa and millions in Niger need help again. "If we are in good health and if we have enough to eat, then I am happy. We're very grateful to Mercy Corps. They helped us before so we could be stronger." Together, we can continue to put lifesaving resources like improved seeds and food into the hands of hardworking women like Hawa.
When you join us with a gift of $35, $75 or $150 you’ll help give families the stability they need to survive until the next harvest. Whether it’s emergency food aid to nurse a malnourished child back to health, or improved wells to help the land recover from drought — you can save lives in Niger, and everywhere that hunger plagues families on a daily basis. In times of crisis, when hunger, war and poverty threaten so many people around the world, your support couldn’t be more important.
Dan O’NeillMercy Corps Founder
2013 - What a year it has been!
As the year comes to a close, it is important to acknowledge the amazing work that you have accomplished in one of the world’s toughest places.
Because of you, more than 176,000 people got the resources they needed to keep their livestock healthy, protect their harvests and feed their families during ongoing food shortages in the Sahel. You made families more resilient to future droughts and gave them the tools and farming strategies that will help them weather erratic rainfall.
And it is not too late to make more of an impact in 2013. You help women and children become less vulnerable to unpredictable weather and help improve the health of their livestock, to ensure they have the means to support themselves in the long-term.
On behalf of the families who you help thrive in one of the world’s toughest places - thank you.
Thank you for your support. Because you put your caring into action, we are able to make a positive impact on families’ lives in Niger, Mali and Sahel region, screening 19,000 children for malnutrition and rehabilitating 20 wells. You’ve helped families become more food secure through improved agricultural techniques, distributed emergency food vouchers and supported women entrepreneurs with our Cash For Work program.
Your support changes lives.
To show our appreciation, we'd like to share a video depicting the incredible work you and your fellow donors accomplish in the Sahel and around the world.
See it here!
Together, we help people turn the crises they confront into the opportunities they deserve.
On behalf of the families you help survive and thrive in one of the world's toughest places - thank you.
Repeated food crises in recent years have systematically weakened the ability of communities in Niger to adequately feed their families and prepare for future droughts. Though we have made great strides towards recovery, screening 19,000 children for malnutrition and rehabilitating 20 wells, the projected food shortages for 2013 continue to leave families in the Tillabéri region at risk.
Your continued support in Niger is therefore critical to help families rebuild their lives and weather future shocks.
So far, you have reached more than 4,000 households through:
This work benefits all members of the household, including women and girls.
Gender inequality in Niger is widespread and the bulk of household chores fall to women and girls, including the responsibility to care for livestock like sheep and goats.
Through providing training on animal husbandry techniques, you empower women and give them the tools to gain economic stability for their families. Sheep and goats are highly valued in Niger, and healthy animals afford women social influence as well as provide an important source of nutrition for their families.
Your support strengthens the recovery of vulnerable families in Niger during food shortages and helps communities become resilient to future food crises.
Thank you for continuing to care about people in need in Niger, one of the world’s toughest places.
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