Dec 31, 2019

You help kids like Maoude

Imagine if you’d had to leave school at 5th grade. Think how different your life would be.

For many Nigeriens, this is the best case scenario.

Young Nigeriens from rural areas rarely have the opportunity to attend middle school. Almost no one has a local middle school in their village! Now students don’t have to give up – thanks to YOU. Since 2013, you have given students a chance through the Agadez Learning Center.

The situation is not hopeless. With access to opportunity, kids succeed.

 

Maoude is a powerful case in point!

Will you give today to help ensure education doesn't stop at 5th grade?

Maoude grew up outside a small village in rural Niger. His opportunities were limited. Fortunately, Maoude was one of the first students at the learning center and in 2016, after completing middle school, you gave him the chance to go to high school.

Already, his story was a success. But Maoude went on to do more.

This fall, Maoude began his freshman year at the University of Agadez where he is studying Biology and Environmental Studies. Maoude and his friend, Alabouri, also an ALC graduate, are the ONLY TWO Wodaabe Fulani students at the university. Without you, they would not have made it there at all.

Thank you for giving Maoude the chance of a lifetime to go to college.

Now, Maoude is following in your footsteps. Last month, Maoude joined several recruitment trips to help more Wodaabe Fulani students to access secondary school.

Maoude represents what can be achieved through your partnership. He is doing his part to ensure more bright minds have the opportunities they deserve – to explore, to grow, and eventually to give back.

You believe in these kids – You care, and it makes all the difference.

Dec 23, 2019

How Our Model Works: More Clean Water, More Fresh Food

New Solar Powered Water Pump - Opening Day
New Solar Powered Water Pump - Opening Day

Some have asked how our Community Garden model works in rural Nigerien communities. We'd like to share our process:

The first step in RAIN’s Community Garden model is to identify and work with community stakeholders to form a committee to address their food and water security needs. Many times a community will have heard about our gardens from a neighboring community that has a successful garden and they will ask to become a member of the program.

While the well is being drilled, RAIN’s field agents identify and train interested participants, usually women, in sustainable agricultural and business practices, to help them build an income from the produce they sell. Our training extends beyond gardens – participants learn to develop a business plan, maximize profits, and seek cooperative solutions when issues arise. Often, these women already participate in our other programs, making it easier to build trust.

RAIN also provides seed varieties and trains participants in nutritional practices so that the gardens reinforce balanced diets that tackle malnutrition. We provide gardeners with crops for each season that diversify their nutritional intake and maintain the gardens’ soil quality throughout the year. Lastly, we establish a three-season drip-irrigation system to minimize water waste, increase efficiency (labor vs. yield), and so that community gardens can be cultivated even during the drier seasons in Niger. This helps to maximize food production and reduce intervals between harvests, building food security in our partner communities.

To build “ownership” and self-sufficiency into our model, each community garden is managed by a committee of elected community members. The committee is responsible for maintaining the wells and garden by establishing a savings fund that all gardeners in the community contribute to. This fund covers maintenance work for the wells as well as pesticides and fertilizers needed to ensure a high crop yield. Typically, the committee assumes full responsibility for the gardens and wells within three to four years of program implementation.

While RAIN has over a decade of experience with gardening in Niger, this past Spring/Summer was our first time working with a new technology – borehole wells with solar powered submersible pumps. To carry out the project, we engaged BeHydra, a Nigerien-founded water company that oversaw everything from the geophysical study, to the drilling, to the solar panel installation. We were extremely happy with their professionalism and the quality of their work. It is too early in the process to see the full results of the wells, but so far our partner communities have been pleased with the process: both wells (each 50+ meters deep) have seen positive outputs (between 1.5-3.5m3/hour). This level of output should be sufficient to support garden expansion in Nassile and Tagantassou – possibly quadrupling the amount of land that can be irrigated. Additionally, the new pumping systems will better enable the garden committees to accurately track water usage. We believe that going through this process in Nassile and Tagantassou has prepared us to bring this technology to Imboraghan and Betarmatas as well.

With your support, we will work to achieve the following outcomes in 2020-2021: 

  • Train and empower 165 gardeners across 4 communities with the knowledge and skills to build livelihoods from sustainable agriculture; 
  • Establish over 23,800m2 of drip-irrigated garden plots across 4 partner communities; 
  • Harvest at least 2,500 Kg of crops per year to meet food and nutritional needs of at least 825 adults and children directly and 2,000 people in neighboring villages; 
  • Equip community gardeners with business practices and entrepreneurial skills to double their income from gardening activities 

As always, thank you for your dedication to Niger, and your support of Rain for the Sahel and Sahara!

WIshing you a safe and Happy New Year!

New Water Tower
New Water Tower
Dec 19, 2019

Sharing Some Successes As We Look to the New Year!

Rakia and Fatima studying
Rakia and Fatima studying

As the new decade approaches, we are proud to share the following programmatic successes and achievements from the last year:

  • 377 girls were mentored through our Mentorship Program.
  • Female mentees were 15% less likely to drop out of school compared to unmentored peers.
  • 100% of girls in our pilot middle school program passed their year-end national exams on the first round and advanced to the next grade. School enrollment is now up 24%.
  • 18 girls received room and board through the Agadez Learning Center, enabling them to attend middle school.
  • 8 girls received room and board in our partner communities in Aouderas, enabling them to attend the Aouderas middle school.

Our Mentorship Program successfully provided mentoring to 564 elementary and middle school students, 67% of whom are girls. With the right support, mentorship, and coaching, our female mentees developed the confidence to value their own education and focused on developing new life skills, building competencies, and outperforming their own expectations. Our local, trained female mentors worked with students and their families to ensure students not only attended school regularly, but also thrived and outperformed their peers. As a result, our female mentees were 15% less likely to drop out of school. This year, we also expanded our existing elementary mentorship program in Tagantassou where the school director noted the positive impact of our program on attendance, which ultimately influences students’ ability to continue their education and enroll in middle school.

In addition to serving as their mentee’s advocate, our mentors provided students with traditional and cultural skill-building practices such as weaving, health education such as WASH techniques and reproductive health, and education on issues of gender-based violence. As a result, our education programming successfully provided critical wraparound support that ensured girls’ continued education, well-being, and long-term success.

RAIN recently piloted a Middle School Expansion Program in response to the Nigerien government’s opening of new middle schools in rural communities. Despite increasing access to middle schools, many of these schools remain largely under-resourced, lacking proper facilities and teacher resources. Our Mentorship Program works to support these under resourced schools and provide students with mentorship and supplemental classes to support their educational advancement. Mentors also serve as a bridge and trusted partner to families, many of whom were reluctant to send their girls to middle schools, especially schools that required long travel to attend. Our pilot saw enormous success in its first year – 100% of students at our pilot middle school program passed their year-end national exams on the first round. This is rare in Niger as most students are obliged to sit a second-round oral exam due to low test scores. Further, our pilot also saw that middle school enrollment increased by 24% this year. With the success of this pilot, we expanded to two new middle schools in the Tillabery region and are currently working with 120 middle school students.

Looking Forward:

2020 will be an exciting year for RAIN as we expand our educational initiatives for girls. With new middle schools and, correspondingly, expanded elementary school populations, we see a unique opportunity to grow our mentoring program. There is a growing demand in our partner communities and their neighboring villages as more families start to see the positive impacts of our programs. For example, in a small village near Ingui, the community has explicitly requested more mentors. While there are already some students enrolled from that area, families are concerned about the long distances their students travel to get to school and believe that mentors’ support and consistent encouragement would help combat this issue. As such, we plan to expand to more than double the mentoring program in this area in the next academic year.

Our educational goals for 2020 are to:

1. Train 137 female mentors (including 25 new mentors) who will mentor a total of 685 youth across elementary and middle schools, 70% of whom will be female students;

2. Provide scholarships for room, board and tuition at the Agadez Learning Center for 40 youth (18 new students from villages that don’t have a local middle school), over 50% of whom will be female students; and

3. Help 75 female students to successfully enroll in or advance to the next grade in middle school. Your support allows us to achieve these milestones.

Group of Mentored Students
Group of Mentored Students
 
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