Niger's Tuareg and Wodaabe nomads rely on their herd animals for meat, milk and income. There is only one rainy season per year in Niger. Last year's rains were sporadic -- crops are small and pasture land is scant. The rain will begin again in July, and the grasses will start to grow. But now, all is dry and parched. This project will save thousands of animals, as well as the men, women and children for whom these animals are their only resource. This is long-term aid!
Niger, the poorest country in the world, is an arid land subject to drought. These conditions have worsened over the past decade, with rainfall becoming more erratic, causing widespread crop failures and food shortages. In Niger it rains only from June to September. The normal rainfall amounts are not plentiful but for farmers and nomadic herders coping with scarcity is part of everyday life. Last year's rains were too sporadic and to support the growth of crops or pasture. Hunger is severe.
While large aid organizations are distributing food from central points in Niger, this food does not reach distant nomadic populations. Nomads are dependent upon their herd animals to provide milk, their dietary staple, as well as cheese and meat to eat or sell. RAIN seeks to help those not receiving aid, and to concentrate upon providing animal feed -- by keeping herd animals alive we are meeting people's immediate need for nourishment as well as their future access to food and livelihoods.
By feeding herd animals, RAIN's project funding will provide emergency relief to at least 250 people while at the same time supporting the animals that are their primary -- and often sole -- source of milk, cheese and meat. The sale of some animals allows families to purchase other staple foods and their daily living needs. The long-term effect of this program is preserve livelihoods and help preserve the traditional lifestyles of people for whom their are no other options for earning a living.