Like most children living in remote desert regions of Niger, students of the Tillaberi region walk several miles daily to school in temperatures reaching 100-110 degrees. Providing nutritious lunches - which often times may be their only meal of the day - is imperative to their success in school. As the demand for quality education in our partner communities grows and schools see increased attendance, School Market Gardens must provide the food and income to support more students. 500 sq. meter gardens are being expanded to 1,000 sq. feet along with the addition of income generating cash crops such as fruit trees. Time and natural disasters take their toll, and several of our current gardens are in need of modifications, improvements, and refresher trainings.
This past fall and winter, Abdul Salam Dourkari, Coordinator of Agriculture, and field agent Ahmoud Mouwala visited the Tilliberi communities of Tchirboye, Nassilé, Ingui, Lemdou, Bonfeba, and Tagantassou to renew, repair and evaluate the progress of their School Market Gardens.
The objectives of the field visits:
Nassilé & TchirboyeRepairs & installations:
The nurseries were in good condition overall: cabbage, lettuce, tomato, onion and chili seeds were transplanted in mid-November, only to be destroyed by a locust invasion. However, the next generation of transplants are protected by a mosquito net and intact. A new cabbage, lettuce, potato and tomato seed nursery was installed in the Nassile garden - onion and cabbage transplants in Tchirboye. Happily, the mango, guava and moringa trees show good signs of development. In order to protect the galvanized wire fence surrounding the garden, Jatropha seeds were planted to form a lasting live-fence for both garden sites.
Bio-pesticide trainingCrop pest control is an important step to optimize agricultural production. Garden participants were trained in how to create bio pesticides using easily accessible and low cost sources, including tobacco, pepper, soap, and neem seeds. The solution of tobacco, pepper or neem is combined with a liter of water, steeped for 24 hours, mixed with soapy water and applied to crops.
InguiRepairs & installations:
Garden development has been delayed due to a major locust invasion on crops after transplanting. However, tomatoes, onions, carrots lettuce and bell pepper can be found in the developmental stage. The seed nursery holds the promise of future onions, cabbages, lettuce, bell pepper, tomatoes, carrots and potatoes.
LemdouRepairs & installations:
Although the drip-irrigation system was down for at least a week as a result of the pump breaking down, the crops were unaffected, thanks to the gardener and his efforts to water the garden manually until the repair team arrived. Crops include tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage, green peppers, onions, carrots, potatoes, melons and some corn, as well as blooming moringa trees, four lemon trees and a pomegranate tree. The gardener and community received the organic pesticide training.
BonfebaRepairs & installations:
TagantassouRepairs & installations:
Garden crops include tomatoes, lettuce, green peppers, cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes, melon, squash, cowpeas and corn, as well as moringa trees.
This field visit to the Tillaberi region communities presented many well and pest issues and underscored opportunities for continued training to fill in knowledge gaps of participants. In order to make the most out of the School Market Gardens throughout the year, we will continue to:
Your continued support allows us to keep the promise that "RAIN always comes back." Our partner communities know we are here to help keep their food security on track, with you standing behind us as programs evolve and grow. Thank you!
“Thanks are due to RAIN for the garden and both wells in our village. Nassile has a serious problem of having no potable water. So, these two wells have helped us to solve the problem for us and our animals. The garden is a gem for the population and for students in particular, as most do not know tomatoes, cabbage, lettuce and potatoes.” - Nassile Garden Committee Present Yacouba Bilan
Your steady support in 2014 has changed the lives of thousands in Niger. With your help, we’re doubling the size of several school market gardens, initiating more women’s gardens, and investing in community wide initiatives such as small grants, crop supplementation and workshops to improve yields, raise knowledge and increase food security for all.
Your contribution is nothing less than an investment in desert families to shape their own futures in the face of myriad challenges.
Thank you so much for your friendship and partnership throughout the year.Enjoy this video reviewing all the ways we made Niger a better place in 2014.
Happy New Year from all of us at RAIN!
In 2015, RAIN will be focusing on the expansion, improvement and rehabilitation of existing School Market Gardens and their attendant wells in current partner communities before expanding into new communities. Existing gardens will be expanded from 500 square meters to 1,000 square meters to accommodate cash crops, increasing sustainability. In some communities, the gardens need intensive rehabilitation due to recent floods, droughts and changes in nomadic living patterns. As our agricultural programs develop they are taking the form of mainly women driven community wide gardens that not only support schools but benefit entire communities on a wider scale.
To reflect this shift in scope, look for our Community Garden microproject coming soon - another opportunity to support organic food production in Niger. RAIN will provide a tailored action plan for each partner community - for example, in Gougaram, we're strengthening their current gardens with small grants, training and educational opportunities. For Ingui, the well will be restored and the School Market Garden expanded. In Mari, RAIN will continue to build on the success of the Women's Garden and as a launching pad for our pioneering garden-as-classroom cirriculum in organic techniques, crop variety and rotation, and maximizing nutrition for children and adults alike.
We plan to launch a Microproject focusing on our community garden grants program with this wider focus. An additional Microproject will support improvements to our Agadez Learning Center - a "home away from home" for nomadic students persuing middle school - which will include a 1,000 square meter School Market Garden to provide produce to the students and help support the center. We hope you'll continue to support food security to the most remote struggling in the Sahel and Sahara with these new opportunities!
The RAIN TeamU.S. & Niger
Since expanding to the southern Tillaberi region of Niger in 2009, RAIN has gained many motivated community partners in creating sustainable food security solutions for the nomadic and semi-nomadic people who call this region their home. As in all rural areas of the country, recovery is still in process from the recent droughts that decimated crops and herds.We're happy to share news of hope and renewal from the communities of Nassile and Tirboye as they embark on garden and well projects with your support behind them every step of the way.
Nassile Elementary School - Drip Irrigated School Market Garden and Well Installation
The Nassile School serves several surrounding area hamlets, which means most students walk long distances to get to school. Their new 1,000 square meter drip irrigated garden will ensure that a variety of healthy food is provided for them.
Water IssuesBefore the updated well installation, women would pull water for their families from a traditional masa-masa well. Besides the poor water quality, the low output left the women waiting for trickles of water until midnight. Many families skipped dinner simply due to a lack of water.
Families now enjoy the benefits of the School Garden well, including greater output and highter quality water. The well fills to the rim during the dry season, and provides fresh water 6-7 months of the year as the water table slowly descends.
Once the well, water tank, and fence work was finished, mentors, local school gardeners, and school staff members were trained to install drip irrigation systems. As the school year ends and the rainy season approaches, students help to plant mango, guava, and papaya saplings for long term sustainability. To date, the garden has produced a successful harvest of over 150kg of cucumbers and about 30 melons at the end of the hot season. Adults and children alike had never seen or heard of a cucumber before cultivating them. Hot season gardening is new to these communities. The possibility of a hot season harvest was demonstrated by the successful harvest of these pilot crops - resulting in greater food security for all.Tirboye School Garden with Drip IrrigationInstalled near the Gorou Bi, a seasonal river and major tributary of the Niger River, Tirboye's garden is experimenting with papaya trees in addition to mango and guava. The local soil is hard clay, and after an unsuccessful season, we realized that the addition of fertilization with compost is necessary. Though most residents moved out to huts in their fields at the start of the rainy season, RAIN mentors, several students, Tchindo the gardener, and other volunteers joined forces to plant fruit trees and begin to prepare for a rainy season crop of okra, beans, and sesame. Tchindo planted mango trees in the school yard, using thorn fencing as protection from animals. Fruit is not only an important nutritional addition for the students - it also has the best potential as cash crops.Year round planting, larger and more diverse crops, and fresh water, when added to the hard work and dedication of our partner communities, brings bounty in the arid Sahel and keeps children healthy and in school. None of it is possible without your support - thank you!P.S. GlobalGiving will match each donation to School Market Gardens 40% starting 9am EST on July 16th. Giving on this day will mean nearly twice the benefit to families in Niger! Please share this amazing opportunity with your friends and family.
From March to June, the hot season bakes the life out of the Sahel, the southern fringes of the Sahara Desert. For the RAIN partner community of Tirboye in Niger, a new drip-irrigated school market garden will bring the welcome surprise of new crop life during this traditionally barren period.
Drip irrigation decreases the amount of water used, reduces the labor demands of gardening, and allows for year round crop cultivation, even in one of the most arid places in the world. Tirboye is a village primarily made up of Gourmance people, an ethnic group known for their agricultural acumen, and men and women alike can be found breaking up the hard desert earth with traditional hand-crafted hoes. A RAIN school market garden is the perfect solution for Tirboye, bringing schoolchildren, teachers and mentors together to overcome formidable obstacles to education and food security through modern agricultural techniques. During this hot season, the clay soil in Tirboye becomes so baked, that after breaking it apart with pick-axes, the resulting chunks of earth are literally pulverized to create a texture suitable for planting.
In a community where the children have never seen, let alone tasted, a tomato, carrot, or melon, the photos featured on their seed packages act as a strong motivator for the arduous and intensive task of planting a garden in the scorching sun. Our five women mentors, who each sponsor five local at-risk girls, will be assisting the hired gardener and school staff in installing a year-round crop-producing plot from land traditionally used only three months during the year. A seed nursery is also being installed to ensure continuity of crops regardless of seed availability. After the first harvest of crops that include moringa tree saplings, a source of the most nutritional edible leaf in the world, fruit trees, a lucrative cash crop, will be planted along the outer edge of the garden, enclosing this future pocket of paradise. The community has also expressed interest in cultivating fruits such as mango, guava and papaya.
The Tirboye school community and mentoring support system are at the start of growing a miraculous mirage that will soon flourish, supplying undernourished students with vitamin-rich vegetables and fruits at the edge of the vast Sahel desert. With cash crops to support the school, the garden will foster the growth of the school, enlarging its capacity to provide the foundation for an academic education while serving as a living classroom for lessons in food security that will endure over generations for this subsistence farming community.
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