2012-13 has seen RAIN School Market Gardens generating a positive impact in the partner communities of the northern Arlit region of Niger and has led to the increase in overall number of community residents.
AkokanIn January, RAIN Niger staff conducted a tour and met with the group of mentors of Akokan, who are into their 8th year of working together in small enterprise and guiding at-risk girls. Staff member Halima Aboubacar presented an evaluation of current agricultural activity in the community as well the performance thus far of the mentor 3 year goat herding activity and the impacts of the savings and loan program on the most recent year of enterprise. The goat herding and savings and loan programs are functioning well, allowing women more economic independence and the opportunity to plan financially for various needs throughout the year.
IferouaneJanuary 2013: RAIN staff conducted an interview with the Agricultural Director of Iférouane regarding the engagement of an agricultural specialist for the ongoing maintenance, monitoring and evaluation of Iférouane gardens. RAIN prefers to recruit local talent to ensure the continuity of access that comes with the greater level of availability along with a deeper relationship to the community. After the technician was identified, a meeting was held with staff in Agadez and Niamey to plan for activities for the year. February: Halima Aboubacar meets with mentors, orders for the season are placed and payments disbursed. The future school and garden site were surveyed, as well as the non-functioning well, which is determined to likely cause delays in the garden installation process.
Residents of Iferouane were introduced to monitoring and evaluation tools to use for their future School Market Gardens, including:
1) How to record crop performance: number of crops, level of diversity, harvests success and failures using a RAIN designed tracking sheet;
2) Evaluation of the condition of the materials and equipment at the start and end of each growing season;
3) Reviewing the use of organic pesticides – the types utilized and the number of applications needed per season;
4) Regular communication with the local garden specialist on the progress of crops.
GougaramGarden background: The school market garden in Gougaram was first installed in 1979 to support and teach students. In 2002, RAIN reinvigorated community interest in the garden and invested in a professional gardener. In 2007, the garden was damaged in conflict, and was rehabilitated with the help of RAIN in 2011 and again in 2012 due to floods.
January 2013: Niger staff visited Gougaram to gather information regarding the feasibility of the installation of a 5,000 sq. meter women’s agricultural cooperative garden for the community. February: Staff conducted measurements of the garden site, created a budget for well repairs, and determined the fencing requirements to ensure security from animals. March: Founder and Executive Director Bess Palmisciano, Board Chair John Ahlgren, Niger Program Director Brian Nowak and Agricultural Coordinator Koini Abdourahmane visited the Gougaram School Market Garden. A community meeting was held in the presence of the Gougaram COGES (PTA), mentors and artisans to discuss the monitoring of the established cereal bank, management of the school canteen, initiating mentoring and practical skills classes for the year, adding mentors to the current group, and the possible installation of the women’s cooperative garden. School market garden issues were discussed, including management strategies, garden maintenance costs, the percentage of crops consumed vs. sold in the past growing season, and the individual benefits of the garden for each individual.
On the agenda Fall 2013:
Spring 2013 Survey – Gougaram Agriculture Cooperative
The Gougaram Agriculture Cooperative is a project in the planning stages with the goal of organizing independent gardeners, providing small scale garden grants, and training in organic techniques, marketing, crop diversity, and improved techniques. We hope to initiate activities this year. On this round of community field visits, RAIN staff identified 16 potential future garden sites with at least one well. Current crop cultivation remains primarily subsistence level with very low production yield potential. Communities with access to a vehicle have the ability to generate income selling surplus crops in Arlit. Of the 16 communities surveyed, only 2% currently produce lemon trees. However, the potential for fruit tree cultivation is high, as the valley has a climate similar to the Timia region, which is an area producing high volumes of various citrus fruits. Fruit trees provide scarce shade, contribute to variety and nutritional diversity, and make for an excellent cash crop.
This January, RAIN Agricultural Coordinator Koini Abdourahamane and Niger Program Director Brian Nowak traveled to the northern region of Arlit to follow the progress of the School Market Garden installed last year in the remote nomadic community of Tadek. The garden is governed and monitored by a community-elected committee, most of whom are local women. The community also chose the school gardener, who is trained by RAIN. The short-term goal for School Market Gardens is to first generate sufficient funds to pay the gardener a small monthly salary. The long term purpose of the garden is to improve the quality of meals served at school, generate income through the sale of surplus crops to support the garden, and to serve as a living classroom where the students along with the entire community learns drip irrigation and organic farming techniques.
At the start of the 2013 school year, the school in Tadek supported 29 students, comprised of 6 girls and 23 boys, with 19 students in the primary class and 10 students in the secondary level. School Director and teacher Smaiel Foto Hohame told us about how enrollment has diminished from before the Tuareg rebellion, whose headquarters were located in the mountains near Tadek. The community was evacuated and the school suffered terrible damage. When people returned to their homes they found the school and its garden ruined. Crime in the area rose – former rebels had arms and no incomes.
Tadek is comprised of traditional nomadic families who live varying distances away in their moving encampments. The school must be well supplied and provide food to students in order for parents to feel it is safe enough for their children.
Planting of the garden commenced in February and March. Crops include:
RAIN gardens are organic and training in the making and use of natural pesticides such as pepper, tobacco and neem leaves is offered to gardeners and community members. Surplus crops eligible for sale will be determined at end of the garden season as a session is conducted to identify local markets on the part of the garden committee, PTA and RAIN staff.
It's our hope that re-installing the garden will instill confidence in the parents of Tadek to enroll their children in school to get back on track with their educations this first full year back from exile. With your help, we're committed to providing the support and follow through needed to hold on to this important community resource!
The Tagantassou primary school in the Tillaberi region of Niger is a typical small village school: a few cement classrooms with scrappy furniture, many grass mat classes built by the community with children sitting on the floor in some cases, and few educational materials. In part with your support, the RAIN drip-irrigation School Market Garden has provided vital nutritious vegetables for the students while acting as a sustainable source of revenue for school supplies. This year, the garden will increase in value as the site of a pilot program, wherein it is transformed into a living classroom providing hands-on learning experience for children. Using textbooks provided by RAIN, a 4-month curriculum of study has been created, focusing on environmental science, agriculture, nutrition and health. The curriculum combines classroom learning with agricultural activities, including weekly data collection in the garden. Through participation in the harvesting and sale of crops, students will learn important mathematics and logistical lessons in small business accounting and organization in addition to new techniques in irrigation, cultivation and organic pest control. The winter season is ideal to garden in Niger, and the drip irrigation system is close to being fully installed, ready for the new plantings. Seedlings will be ready for transplant in less than two weeks, at which time the students will begin their specialized studies. We are very enthusiastic about this project and the prospect of adopting this hands-on model in all our School Market Gardens in the coming year. The drip irrigated school market garden with cash crop sustainability enhanced by the agricultural curriculum exemplifies RAIN’s integrated approach to long lasting change for rural communities in one of the world’s poorest countries.
Every donation counts, and we are grateful for your partnership and caring for nomadic families in Niger who receive little or no assistance from any other source.
On Wednesday October 17th, GlobalGiving will match all donations to RAIN by 30%, providing an exciting opportunity to make an even bigger impact for food security in Niger!
Let's make the most of this chance - share with your friends and family and on your social networks, tell them why you support RAIN, and how they can acheive the good of two contributions with one - then donate as early as you can on the 17th - the matching will at $50,000. Every donation counts, even just $10 - together, we can make this Bonus Day a great success.
2012 has seen alternate droughts, flooding and locust invasions for agriculture in Niger, and RAIN’s gardens have been no exception. Though we continued to install several new gardens in the Agadez and Tillaberi regions with your support, we are also focusing on repair and rehabilitation where needed. The following is an update of the status of some of our School Market and Cooperative gardens.
Lemdou and Tagantassou
This growing season, School Market Gardens generated food for 311 students in the community of Lemdou, and 128 in Tagantassou. Supplemented with eggs from poultry, the peanuts, melon, pumpkin, manioc, corn, okra and moringa provided by both gardens are an important nutritional addition to the staple millet. In Lemdou, tomatoes were affected by flooding but have recovered.
99 nomadic women in Mari have formed an agricultural co-op, sharing a 5,000 sq. foot plot with great success, learning from the newly created curriculum addressing modern agricultural techniques (drip irrigation), bio gardening to prevent soil destruction, nutritional and healthy food cooking, and hygiene. Mari is now experiencing flooding, and when the water recedes later this fall, the well installation will resume, providing the first step in drip irrigation installation. Also planned is the building of a small protective wall to protect from future flooding.
Bonfeba, Tagantassou, Soulifiet and Tchintouloust
Gardens are successfully producing crops, including tomato, potatoes, lettuce, cucumber and melon.
Due to flooding, Tangushman is currently inaccessible. When waters recede, RAIN staff in Niger will visit the community to evaluate garden damage, if any.
RAIN staff in Niger are closely following all gardens to better educate committees on management and techniques to best maximize crop output. The new garden curriculum, in the final stages of development, will be an integral part of all RAIN agricultural projects in the future.
As the school year begins and families return, we will have more updates on the progress of existing and new RAIN gardens. In this time of so much need, the bounty of a garden in the desert is a testament to your caring support. Thank you!
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