In the developing world, women are often sole caretakers of their families and communities and Niger is no exception. RAIN transforms a potentially vulnerable situation by empowering rural women to grow food and earn funds in their shared 5,000 sq meter drip irrigated Community Gardens, yielding enough crops to create an income generating surplus while acting as an onsite learning center for nutrition and sustainable organic farming techniques.
Food security is a constant threat in drought heavy rural Niger. In nomadic communities, lack of knowledge and poverty causes poor crop yields. Custom and family demands often keep women from cultivating crops successfully on their own. With limited diversity, lack of planting strategy, and lack of access to a seed bank, garden yields stay at subsistence level with no income potential. Traditionally herders, knowledge of drip irrigation, organic techniques and nutrition is low.
Up to 100 women share one garden, reducing time invested by 50% while increasing crops yields tenfold. Drip irrigation saves time and water. Seed banks allow planting of a greater diversity of crops and extend one growing season into three. Income generated from value added food products to local markets enable members to buy medicine, send their children to school, and purchase food between harvests. Hands on lessons in organic techniques and nutrition maximization promotes good health.
Diversifying herding with agriculture increases food security in times of drought. Composting, drip irrigation and organic pest control replace environmentally damaging practices. Members spread knowledge of improved techniques and awareness of important social, physical and economic health issues to the community. The women keep 50% of generated income and donate the remainder to their children's schools. With a source of income, families gain stability and organic produce boosts health levels.
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"Slice of Life" Video: The women of Mari planting.