Oct 18, 2019

Growing and Scaling Our Herds

Part of the Herd
Part of the Herd

Our Sustainable Herding Initiative is one of RAIN's most beloved programs in Niger. We currently have 6 herding groups across our partner communities and plan to expand in the coming year. As with all RAIN’s programs, we leverage education to bring not just one-time resources but valuable skills and knowledge to transform communities over time.

Goat herding is a traditional practice that combined with RAIN’s training can help generate much needed income and food security. RAIN provides participants with three female goats and one male goat, vaccinations for the herd, and training in sustainable animal health and husbandry and basic business skills. We also provide training in long-term strategy and problem-solving for herd growth/maintenance for business.  Finally, the process reinforced participants belief in themselves that over time they can set and achieve goals as a group. For example, this year, Fatima fulfilled her childhood dream of buying a long-eared Fulani goat from Zinder, a town more than 500 km from Aouderas. 

Over the course of the first four years, the women cultivate their herd and sell the kids of the original goats. They also retain the livestock products – milk, yogurt, and cheese – for nutrition, which is important as families without herds are forced to buy more expensive powered milk. By the fourth year, herds reach a sustainable size and the program becomes self-sustaining. Importantly, SHI builds trust by demonstrating RAIN’s commitment to the community’s success through a tangible, familiar investment – goats.

In the coming year, we’re starting two new herding groups in Aouderas and Betermatas and will use the opportunity to formalize a training manual to standardize the program and make replicability easier for future scaling. We hope you'll support RAIN as we grow this program!

Oct 18, 2019

56 Years of Connection from Maine to Niger

Larry Cassidy RPCV
Larry Cassidy RPCV

In 1963 Larry was in the 2nd delegation of Peace Corps Volunteers in Niger (Pictured in the center on the steps of "La Presidence" -the president's residence).

Larry saw the need in Niger first hand.

56 years later that impression has stuck with him.

This experience is part of why Larry is a RAINMaker - a monthly donor. His recurring donation ensures there's never a season Nigeriens go without.

Last month Larry was moved by the story of Issoufou, a home-stay student from the middle school mentoring program who was profiled in our last newsletter. Along with his check for September he wrote a letter to Issoufou. Larry dusted off his French for the letter and with his go-ahead a rough translation is below:


My dear young man, Issoufou,

This very day, I learned your name and I also understand that you are starting your second year at your school.

I decided to write to you only to offer you my very good wishes - I am sure that this year offers you many joys and academic growth.

My friends call me Larry, and I'm 80 years old! You see I have very little hair left! (Larry drew a smiley face with 3 hairs).

(and my French is lacking too). I am American but I worked in Niger from 1963-1964, 55 years ago and then some.

Issoufou, young man, I want us to be partners. Buddies, from this day on. You, you learn at your school, and you seek out success and joy wherever they are to be found, and me, I'll keep your name in my prayers. Every day.

I'm happy to know your name.


     Larry Cassidy


Your support means so much to students like Issoufou, who wouldn't otherwise have access to middle school.  

Issoufou’s ability to attend school will determine his ability to provide for himself in the future. Traditionally, those with physical handicaps were left to beg – being unable to participate in Niger’s economy, which relied heavily on manual labor. Going to school gives Issoufou opportunities beyond that. The ability to pursue an education shows Issoufou, his peers, and others in his community that school and the knowledge acquired there is more than theoretical, it can be practical. It can be a means to survive.  Issoufou's story has touched many and Larry's response touched us at RAIN.  We hope you will join Larry and help close the opportunity gap for students like Issoufou!

Sep 25, 2019

Building Sustainable Food and Water Systems

Harvesting Tomatoes
Harvesting Tomatoes

We are pleased to report that during the 2018-2019 program year, our 60 partner gardeners in Nassilé and Tagantassou directly fed over 300 people in their communities. Additionally, as a result of our garden and drip irrigation installments, over 1,000 additional adults and children from neighboring communities collected water and bought produce harvested from the gardens. 

RAIN’s Sustainable Agriculture program provided our partners in Nassilé and Tagantassou with the critical resources to build environmentally sustainable food and water systems that not only provided secure food sources, but also income generating opportunities.  Here are some of the community garden successes:


The Nassile and Tagantassou gardens produced over 46,000 lbs. of crops enabling the women in the program to feed their families and contribute to nutritious and diverse diets across their communities.

o Harvest included cabbage, carrots, eggplant, yalo, lettuce, green pepper, tomato, potatoes, onion, melon and watermelon representing a significant contribution to expanded nutrition compared to a diet consisting predominantly of grains.

Despite a difficult harvest year nationally, our local gardeners produced enough food to sustain themselves and even sell surplus crops for an additional profit.

o Gardeners in Tagantassou increased the group’s income to bring in 411% of the previous year’s earnings (150,000 fCFA) to contribute to their economic independence and garden sustainability;

o Nassilé gardeners engaged in additional income generating activities to earn 274% of the previous year’s total (594,050 fCFA) – their increased earning power was due in large part to a new cereal bank initiative (271,900 fCFA with stock remaining). This consisted of stocking cereal such as millet and sorghum to store and sell during the “hunger season.” They stocked 13 bags of cereal to serve a dual purpose: to keep gardeners and their families fed during the hunger season and to increase profit by selling the grains during the off season when their market price peaks. They also benefited from a new product: mangos;

o Earnings were used to ensure garden success and sustainability; gardeners purchased mosquito nets to protect the nurseries, pesticide, fuel for the motor pump (before the new well was established), bags for produce sales, a padlock, and travel to and from sale sites.

RAIN installed two borehole wells (50+ meters deep) with solar powered submersible pumps – RAIN’s first wells with this more sustainable and efficient technology. In addition to providing safe drinking water, these wells save women precious time and contribute to their safety.

o The wells are both over 50m in depth. In Nassile, the well produces 1.5 m3/hour of potable water and in Tagantassou the well produces 3.5 m3/hour;

o This increased access to water will facilitate garden expansion in the coming year – something the communities have asked for but that required additional water. It also ensures that there will be sufficient water for consumption in addition to the water used for drip irrigation;

o Finally, these are communities where a lack of well productivity left women waiting by the well late into the night and early in the morning, hoping to collect a few more drops of water. This increased water flow will save women time – allowing them to dedicate more time to income generating work – and help ensure their safety by eliminating the need to wait outside for long stretches of time at night and in the early morning.

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