More than a year has passed since we began our work in northern Mali, a region continuing to grapple with severe drought, conflict, and political crisis. Because of your generosity, Mercy Corps has been able to remain in the country and provide those affected with vouchers for food and other basic provisions. These vouchers allow these women to buy the food they need most from the local market.
We have also been able to expand our operations in the country and help feed more than 18,000 people by providing vouchers for food and other provisions - covering up to 50% of a family's basic needs for one month.
Looking ahead, Mercy Corps is gearing up for the rainy season and the potential for cholera, which hit the region hard last year. The next round of vouchers given will include a portion designated to hygiene and water purification goods only. We are also training households on good hygiene practices and helping the women and youth who transport the water learn how to properly clean their equipment.
With your support, we have been able to provide hope to the families and communities devastated this past year. But Mercy Corps is also committed to long term solutions, and is implementing an innovative agricultural program for these communities. This will ensure that families gain resiliency and never have to worry about a food crisis again.
As we move forward in this year, I will continue to send you updates on both our food voucher program and our long term plans for the Sahel region. Thank you for your support that enables us to help these families.
As we ring in the New Year, we spend time reviewing what has been done in 2012. Because of you, we at Mercy Corps were able to do some real life-changing work this year!
You are the reason we were able to provide emergency food in the Sahel region, vocational training in Afghanistan, and Hurricane Sandy relief in Haiti -- among our many other projects and programs around the world. Thank you.
We like to see the people you impacted, and I bet you do too. Over 17,000 photos were collected this year and we would like to share some of them with you!
Check out our slide show of the ten best images from 2012 and witness photos of:
And many others!
These images capture the resilient and strong-willed spirit of those we work with, but there is still so much to be done.
As you consider your end-of-year giving, I encourage you to donate to a Mercy Corps project through Global Giving. Choose this one or pick a different project to make a lifesaving difference for families in need:
With you, in 2013, we will continue to make it a brighter, healthier year for families in the world’s most desperate places. With your support, we can make it happen - together!
While crises were going on this year in the Sahel region, and continue even today, you have helped to save and change the lives for many men, women, children - and whole communities - in this part of the world.
Because of your compassion and generosity we were able to achieve so much in 2012. You made change possible!
The accomplishments shared below are a testament to the more than 70,000 donors (including you!) who’ve made this work possible. Because of you this is what we were able to do in Niger, Mali and the Sahel Region as well as other parts of the world:
To show our appreciation, we have put together a slideshow to share how much we were able to accomplish because of your contribution. Check out how you have changed and transformed lives!
And if you haven't received a free 2013 Mercy Corps calendar we still have some left! Just e-mail your address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will happily send you one!
On behalf of the millions of people our work has touched this year, thank you!
Thank you for your support. Because you have put your caring into action to Mercy Corps through GlobalGiving, we are able to make a positive impact on lives throughout the world. To show our appreciation, we'd like to give you a Mercy Corps calendar as a thank you and daily reminder of how you are changing lives!
Because of you, in the communities where we work in Niger, you can see the impact in thriving vegetable gardens, brimming wells, healthier livestock and smiling faces. We could not have had that positive impact without you!
To receive your free 2013 Mercy Corps wall calendar, please send an email to email@example.com with your mailing address! Your address will not be used for any other purpose than mailing you this calendar.
If you are a resident of the Portland, Oregon metro area, please keep in mind that Mercy Corps has several upcoming free events that we would love for you to attend. Tuesday evening on October 30th, we have team members share their stories from the field of how positive changes are being made. Please click here for details of this and other upcoming events and exhibits. If you'd like to attend or receive a monthly email of these events, let us know!
As the end of 2012 quickly approaches, thank you in advance for keeping Mercy Corps in mind as a donation option to change additional lives for the better.
Again, thank you!
The hunger crisis in the Sahel is not an immediate emergency that gets splashed across the evening news. Instead, the tragic circumstances of drought and failed harvests have been building since the beginning of the year.
A slow build might not get as much media attention, but it is no less critical. This wide-spread disaster has left millions of families without enough to eat — and continues to worsen throughout this dry season.
WATCH VIDEO: Food crisis is just beginning
The causes and the effects of this situation are complex, the issues Mercy Corps teams are addressing no less challenging. And you want to know more.
So we passed along supporters' pressing questions to Mercy Corps’ Country Director, Thierno Diallo, in Niger, a nation at the heart of the crisis. His answers shed light on the important work that your support makes possible
What is the impact of the hunger crisis on children there? What is Mercy Corps doing to help?
The hunger crisis has had a negative affect on children’s well being, specifically on their health and nutrition. For example, over 13% of children in one of our target areas, the Tillabéri region, suffer from malnutrition. Many families are unable to access food and basic needs.
Mercy Corps is supporting thousands of vulnerable families through cash-for-work projects and emergency distributions that put cash in the hands of those that need it most so they can buy food. Mercy Corps has also been working with the National Health Extension to support community health centers that screen children for malnutrition; to provide nutrient-rich therapeutic food; to support mothers and improve health of their infants from birth to 2-years-old; and to host health education campaigns in dozens of villages.
How are you helping communities prepare for the future?
We are working to build the resilience of vulnerable communities by providing short-term jobs and cash during times of need or little work. This will help farmers and pastoralists hold onto their assets during the crisis so they can restart their livelihoods when conditions are better. Meanwhile, the projects people work on result in long-term improvements that rehabilitate the land and increase access to water so future harvests and animal health will improve.
They have learned to dig simple, shallow shapes into the land — banquettes for grazing land, half-moons for crops, and smaller crescents for gardening plots — that keep top soil from washing away and collect runoff water. When it rains here, it rains very hard. Rather than just evaporating away, the pooled water now absorbs more fully into the ground. Grasses that animals eat grow very quickly near the pools, which are also a new water source for the animals. The desert transforms incredibly quickly with just a little water — it's pretty amazing!
These areas are also fertilized to improve the soil, and communities are encouraged to plant trees what will slow erosion over the long-term. Additionally, the trees become a source of wood for fuel and the leaves offer more feed for animals.
We are also working with partners to connect more communities with the government's early warning system. Collecting and monitoring more data from throughout the country will ensure future droughts do not go unnoticed before it’s too late.
What has been most surprising about the situation on the ground?
During past crises, men and young people would temporarily leave villages to find work or food in the cities. But the situation is so bad this time that they are no longer leaving women and children behind to maintain their homes; entire families are abandoning their farms for good and uprooting their whole lives to try to survive. The sense is that the situation has become hopeless and people do not see a way of making it work in either the short- or long-term.
How is Mercy Corps introducing sustainable farming/agriculture practices to help people through this drought, and droughts to come?
Mercy Corps is helping people get access to improved seeds that can better withstand dry conditions and more effective fertilization to improve the soil. We're teaching the land rehabilitation techniques outlined above, which can be integrated into agricultural practices for generations to come.
To increase the market value of harvests, our teams are also working with farmers — especially women — on improved storage techniques. Traditionally, small and disadvantaged producers sell crops immediately after harvest. The surplus in the market at harvest time causes prices to drop, and the most vulnerable farmers are forced to sell their produce at unfavorable prices. Our programs teach simple preservation and storage strategies, like completely drying beans and peanuts before storing (if stored while still wet or damp the produce will just rot). This knowledge provides farmers with the skills to preserve a high quality product and allows them to sell their produce when the market has more favorable conditions.
Why did you choose to work for Mercy Corps?
Broadly, Mercy Corps strives to find solutions to complex global crises by thinking differently about the process, using local partnerships and focusing on long-term sustainability. I was drawn to Mercy Corps by the challenging geography in which they operate and the unique development models they employ to create lasting change in these transitional environments.
Why is it so difficult to grow produce in the region?
Niger is in the Sahel, the southern part of the Sahara desert. The region is affected by climate change, which has led to increasingly chronic and recurring droughts every three or four years. In addition to low amounts of rainfall and groundwater, the soil is very poor and generally infertile. Most farmers use traditional production methods, but the improved technology and modern techniques discussed above will help them adapt to these new environmental conditions.
People in crisis respond with courage. What stories of courage do you keep close to your heart?
On a recent field visit we talked to many people benefitting from our projects. They said that when the family eats, they first serve the children, then the men, and finally they serve the women. When food is plentiful, the whole family eats well. However, now that food is scarce, women continue to serve their children and husbands first. Their self-sacrifice is courageous, but heartbreaking.
During our visit, women told us that they prefer the cash-for-work activities. When they work and earn money, they are able to buy enough food for their entire family. They also work to rehabilitate land that was not previously being utilized. In addition to supporting their families, their efforts help the community produce more food and help to increase the water and feed available for livestock, which increases future earnings.
Thank you for your donation. It helps Thierno and the Mercy Corps team continue this important work. Your donation saved lives.
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