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:

Highlights

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.

Sep 24, 2019

Every student has a story. Every story matters.

Stories from Our Partners
Hadiza, Ounmou & Fatima Return to School
Anywhere in the world a new school year can bring up a mix of excitement and nerves. In Niger it's no different. Many of our rural and nomadic students are the first in their family, or even community to have the opportunity to pursue their education. They are eager to learn, but there is still a tension as they consider the long commutes on foot, the cost of school books and the challenge of studying topics that their parents never studied in a language that their family doesn't speak. Still they persist.
Here are some of their stories.
Hadiza is a middle school student from Arlit. She visited her cousin, Ounmou, in the town where her cousin was to be married.  Ounmou was engaged but desperately wanted to continue her studies. With the support of her RAIN mentor, Ounmou was able to arrange to delay her marriage while she completed her studies. Hadiza was struck by Ounmou’s insistence on continuing her education.
Ounmou’s choices made an impression on Hadiza and encouraged her to stay in school as well.
Tarbane Ewalwal
Fatima , a Tuareg girl from a village east of Agadez, comp ares life at home with her experience at th e Agadez Learning Center. She writes:
“My family lives simply: the women do the housework and drive our herds to the pasture. There is no mill, no electricity, no boreholes to easily find water.
In my new middle school, the most impressive things are the classrooms, offices, sports fields, and school uniforms. The Agadez Learning Center impressed me the most with its study programs, dormitories, the food, the various advisory supports, and the students of different ethnic groups from different areas of the country.
When I finish my studies, I would like to become a primary school teacher, to live and not depend on anyone, and help my little brothers and sisters in my village. 
Jul 22, 2019

What it Means to Own a Goat

Mentor Mari with one of her goats
Mentor Mari with one of her goats

RAIN recognizes that education is the most powerful tool to counteract Niger’s high rates of child marriage, underage mothers, malnutrition, and extreme poverty – all of which trap entire families in poverty, and threaten the future of millions of rural Nigeriens. Girls who stay in school have more options when they graduate, have fewer children, make better decisions regarding the wellbeing of their children, and are more likely to enroll their children in school. (UNICEF, UNESCO). For these reasons, education is the vehicle through which we deliver all our programs and empower women to be active agents in deciding their own future.

Our Mentoring Sustainability Program uses an innovative, culturally sensitive approach to help women and girls in rural communities lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The program becomes self sustaining within four years; it utilizes savings & loans groups and herding initiatives to support mentors and fund their work with their mentees. Our mentors are trained to be education advocates for at-risk youth, 80% of whom are girls. As a result, communities see a reduced dropout rate for mentored compared to non-mentored youth, increased awareness of the risks of early marriage, wide-ranging improvements in health and wellbeing through mentor lessons, and increased income generating opportunities for women through savings & loans groups, entrepreneurial activities and goat herding.

We train women who serve in our Mentoring Program as mentors and education advocates for vulnerable youth – in financial literacy, economic principles, and sustainable herding practices. By equipping women with the tools and knowledge to build their own livelihoods, we also provide positive role models that younger girls can aspire to become. The income that our women mentors earn from their herds is also channeled into their mentoring work and lessons for their mentees.

To prepare women to use herding as a source of income our field agents train the women in practical skills and economic principles such as budgeting and saving to develop their financial literacy. Participants enter the program with a three-day training session where group fundamentals are established including savings, interest rates, and levels of fines for missing meetings and payments. These skills and lessons prepare women to effectively engage in the day-to-day activities of the goat herding initiative.

Herding is the primary way for our women mentors to put the economic principles they have learned into practice. Goats are the livestock of choice given their tenacity amidst Niger’s extreme weather conditions. We provide each mentor with four female goats and one male goat, vaccinations for the herd, and training in sustainable animal health and husbandry. For the first three years, RAIN provides mentors with a monthly stipend of $10 to ensure there is enough food to promote the health and successful breeding of their goats. During this phase, mentors develop a solid understanding of market economics and savings through their trainings and through the sale of livestock products such as milk and cheese, which contribute to their much-needed food security and income. Within four years, mentors grow their herd to a sustainable size, at which point the kids of the original goats can be sold for profit. This income, along with income from livestock products like milk and cheese, grows to replace the monthly stipends, which in turn renders the program self-sufficient.

Training and funding support is pared back in stages over the initial four-year timeline, ensuring that participants have the support they need, while encouraging autonomy and empowerment. By year four, earned income replaces funding from RAIN to cover mentor stipends, food, and vaccines for animals, resulting in the program’s self-sufficiency, long-term sustainability, and replicability. Group members are encouraged to replicate the project and start new mentorship groups in their communities, which builds the project into a grassroots and community-based movement. In this way, the herding initiative promotes financial literacy and independence while providing stable, sustainable economic growth for community education and mentorship.  

When you support this program, you are making a world of difference in a mentor's life, who in turn makes a world of difference in the lives of their mentees.  This effect can permeate a small community.  Thank you for joining us in supporting these strong and resourceful communities.

 
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