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!
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