Jul 18, 2011

School Market Garden Update: The Tillaberi Region

Cabbages in Lemdou
Cabbages in Lemdou

Dear Friend,

Until recently, RAIN solely worked in the Agadez region of Niger, the heart of the nomadic desert. Due to expansion and growth (in great part because of friends like you), RAIN has been able to answer requests for gardens from communities in the Tillaberi region. Tillaberi is a densely populated region of 2,200,000 people, located a four hour drive away from the capital, Niamey. Communities in Tillaberi are among the most food insecure in all of Niger, yet many receive little or nor assistance. 

The five RAIN partner communities in Tillaberi are Lemdou, Tagantassou, Tangouchman, Bonfeba, and Ingui. Unlike Agadez, which is nearly all desert, Tillaberi borders the Sahel region, which has areas of green land, more conducive to agriculture. A primary goal of our market gardens is to build skills and improvements in sustainable communal agricultural practices. These remote pastoral communities have little experience in agriculture.  In Niger drought is common – during times of drought pasture land is sparse and nomadic herders lose their animals – often their only source of food and livelihoods.  They must gain skills raising crops to ensure future food security.

Skills which we seek to improve include community organization, building fences, installing and learning drip irrigation practices (new to much of Niger), biological pest control, crop rotation, sharing knowledge, harvesting, food storage and transport, marketing skills, and evaluating outcomes. 

Each garden comprises four parties that work together - a monitoring committee, the master gardener, RAIN staff, and most importantly, individual community members themselves. Together with the monitoring committee, RAIN staff will visit each market garden to assess progress, evaluate if the garden has reached self sustainability, and engage in dialogue for feedback.  The master gardener instructs the community on how to install, maintain and harvest the crops, and monitors the drip irrigation systems. The lion's share of contribution comes from the community - the parents, teachers, and leaders who come together and plant the garden, build fences, install the irrigation, and harvest and prepare the produce. 

One 1,000 square meter garden with drip irrigation can produce almost three tons of produce in a single growing season. This year, the Lemdou market garden produced 80kg of melons, 10kg of corn, 8k of tomatoes, 11kgs of lemons, 60kg of cabbage, 70kg of salad greens and 41kgs of potatoes, among other crops. The garden has created two months of meals for 146 students at the school, and generated 40,000 fcfa ($80) in school supporting income, which goes a long way in Niger.

Some RAIN market gardens are incorporating poultry for the first time, such as at Tagantassou, providing sources of protein through the eggs and meat for the children. 

In Niger, the next few months are know universally as "the hungry season."  Not so for RAIN partner communities in Tillaberi!  The families of these five villages extend their hearts and hands in gratitude to you for the important role you play in making food security a reality for them.  Tanmeert. 






Row of potatoes in Lemdou
Row of potatoes in Lemdou
Chickens at the Tagantassou garden.
Chickens at the Tagantassou garden.
Jul 7, 2011

New Tailor Joins the Metier Chance Vivre Co-op

Metier Chance Vivre totes
Metier Chance Vivre totes

Exciting news....the “Metier Chance Vivre,” (Chance for Life) Artisan Embroidery Cooperative has begun working with a tailor local to the Agadez region, Aja.  Aja will create the scarves, tote bags, and other sown items for the women to embroider on a separate piece of fabric that is later incorporated in the final product, allowing the members to create more items in a shorter period of time.  Aja has rare experience with western markets, with a good grasp of the standards of work quality as well as fashion ideas. She will be further instructing the women on modern design techniques, combining them with the Wodaabe centuries old embroidery traditions, increasing the value and beauty of their finished products. 


Women tailors are very unusual in Niger, it is an area of work most often reserved solely for men. RAIN is proud to now be facilitating the all-women artisan enterprise true to the inspiration of our original vision for the program. 


New developments are happening in addition to new products - discussions are underway about the cooperative members to possibly work with a well known designer in Niger.  RAIN staff is also actively seeking out local markets for sale of the co-operative products, as well as facilitating the process for the artisans to become members of Niger’s national alliance of craftswomen. 


All these efforts are with the goal of enhancing the co-operatives’ visibility and development as artisans, not only to generate income for themselves and their children’s schools, but towards building new livelihoods, which will continue to benefit their lives and the community for years to come.


We continue to be heartened and impressed by these women’s resolve, hard work, and talent......Bravo, Metier Chance Vivre Co-operative!


If you have interest in purchasing tote bags or other items from the co-operative, email Julia at julia@rain4sahara.org.






May 27, 2011

Interview with Mrs. Jadatta, Mentor

Mentor Jadatta
Mentor Jadatta

Interview with Mrs. Jadatta, Mentor, Community of Tangoushman

Recently, RAIN Education Coordinator Abdou Amani interviewed some women in the community of Tangoushman to learn about their experiences as mentors in the Mentoring and Scholarship program. The following is an interview with RAIN mentor Jadatta.

Name: Jadatta
Age: 37
Marital Status: Married
Children:  3
Education level: Not literate

RAIN: What motivated you to become a mentor for RAIN?

Jadatta: The RAIN staff and the head of our village explained to us what this program entailed. I understood immediately that the purpose of the program was to help our own children. I am a mother of three children, of which two attend school.

RAIN: Since you have become a mentor, what changes, if any, have you noticed in your life?

Jadatta: I learn something new every day. With each round of the RAIN team in our village, we learn many things, either about the children, or health, or questions relating to the school. That is important. Moreover, I’ve become an asset to my community - before the mentoring program, our children did not regularly attend school and did not practice daily hygiene. This is changing, and I am proud of that.

RAIN: Do you feel that the elimination of illiteracy is important for the mentors?

Jadatta: Yes, of course. The knowledge to read and write is essential, regardless of who you are. If we were without education, it is not because we did not want it, but because we did not have the means to create it.

RAIN: What are your hopes for the children who you are entrusted within the framework of the program?

Jadatta: I hope that they continue their schooling, so that in the future they can grow to be productive individuals for themselves and their community. If our children miss their future, the parents will be the ones to assume responsibility and face the consequences.

RAIN: Are there any conflicts that arise between you and the parents of the students?

Jadatta: There have not been conflicts between us and the parents; this is because we sensitize the parents at the start to our plans for their children. They then can see for themselves what we do, and have the opportunity at any time to engage with their children. If our work was harmful in any way, the children would be the first to express this; however, the children like our company and our councils. As a result, the parents have no reason for objection.

RAIN: How often do you meet with the children who are entrusted to you?

Jadatta: Once a week, every week.

RAIN: Do all the five mentors live in the village of Tangoushman?

Jadatta: Yes. We all were raised in this village, and will remain here for our lifetimes. Every Wednesday, we ask the children to return in the evening so that we can meet. Everyone attends. There are absences only in the event of sickness or disease.

RAIN: What are some challenges you encounter in your mentoring work?

Jadatta: One frequent obstacle is the hour of our meetings with the children, which coincides with our domestic obligations. But we overcome that obstacle and make the sacrifice to always be present. Another challenge is to make food available for the children in the evenings at the school. Some children must travel a few kilometers back to school each evening from home, and at times are fatigued and hungry when they arrive. To address this problem, we are striving to increase the school food supply to offer the children in the evening, in order to ensure full attendance. Another challenge is that certain elderly individuals in the village, who do not yet understand the purpose of education, attempt to discourage parents of the children attending. This problem is presently being addressed by the parent and teacher committee, who plan to organize meetings to increase awareness.

RAIN: What are some of the issues you discuss with the children?

Jadatta: We discuss good health and hygiene, habits of successful students, study guidance, how to behave safely and responsibly, and the importance of respect for others. The school principal guides us with the curriculum, and must be congratulated on working with us tirelessly.

Jadatta and other mentors of Tangoushman
Jadatta and other mentors of Tangoushman
Children of Tangoushman.
Children of Tangoushman.
Students on their long journey back home.
Students on their long journey back home.


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