COVID-19  Niger Project #46507

COVID-19 Emergency AID for Rural&Nomadic Nigeriens

by Rain for the Sahel and Sahara
COVID-19 Emergency AID for Rural&Nomadic Nigeriens
10th grade students at the ALC
10th grade students at the ALC

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have disproportionate effects on women and girls in Niger. Considering the limitations of Niger’s health care system and that many have virtually no access to vaccines, the negative impacts persist nation-wide. With approximately 6% of Nigeriens fully vaccinated, at-risk populations are left vulnerable to illness. Ultimately though, the most severe outcomes of the pandemic have been economic. Covid-related lockdowns, reduced working hours, job loss, and travel restrictions have forced 400,000 more Nigeriens into extreme poverty. Impacted supply chains contribute to shortages and costs for everyday items have skyrocketed, making it even harder for Nigeriens to provide for themselves and their families.  The cost of staple goods like rice and couscous have risen 40%, while oil and flour are up over 80%, and beans and cassava flour are up 100%.  

This economic stress has had a ripple effect as families have been forced to reprioritize and look for ways to cut down on expenses. During the height of the pandemic, many schools were shut down. Across the country, we anticipated increased drop-out rates as parents married their daughters off to families better equipped to feed them. And unfortunately, despite our best efforts, daily costs per student at the Agadez Learning Center have risen 36% since this time last year. 

In many ways, much of the world is "moving on" from Covid-19, but in Niger day-to-day survival is getting harder and more expensive.

However, RAIN's programs continue to expand with interest increasing steadily year to year.  Despite the ongoing struggles from the pandemic, your support is still making an exponential difference.

  • Enrollment at RAIN's partners schools increased 18% within the last year, with a 20% increase for girls;
  • 99.3% of mentored students overcame these additional hardships to finish the academic year;
  • 100% of women participating in RAIN's Savings & Loans programs managed to repay their loans;
  • 75 women gardeners, planted community gardens that helped feed 350 family members and 3,000 people in neighboring villages.

A major factor in the successful continuation of RAIN's programming throughout the pandemic has been flexibility. When challenges like the ones we faced last year arise, RAIN seeks opportunities to maximize our ability to carry out our mission within the given context. Having the support and understanding of our donors and community partners is critical in allowing us to adapt. Without your flexibility and support, we would not have been able to pivot so quickly to continue providing programming at the same scale -- it is likely that we would only be in half the number of communities this year.

We believe that international support and collaboration are key to resolving these challenges.  Thank you for your continued partnership, ensuring we do not leave the most vulnerable to fend for themselves in this time of uncertainty. 

Boys helping with seed removal
Boys helping with seed removal

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2021 has come to a close and Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN) would like to thank you for your ongoing support as we continue to move through this challenging time together.  At this time Africa remains the least vaccinated continent with only about 4.2% of the population fully vaccinated, but there is hope on the horizon. 

Thanks to you, RAIN was able to accomplish so much this past year.  Your support helped:

  • provide safe water and hygiene trainings to 3,535 women, children, and family members across 16 communities; 

  • distribute masks for all students and staff at all RAIN partner schools; 

  • implement 6 handwashing stations in local middle schools to promote continued hygiene and limit disease spread as students returned to school; 

  • provide food aid to 360 individuals across 62 households who were suffering disproportionately from the impacts of the pandemic and food insecurity.  

You have enabled RAIN to provide critical resources to thousands of rural and nomadic peoples in Niger and for that we are so grateful. This effort is absolutely critical because with just 3,500 ventilators in sub-Saharan Africa, Niger cannot afford for the virus to spread further in its most remote, vulnerable communities.

Niger also recently received 398,970 doses of the Pfizer vaccine donated from the United States. These doses were shared with Niger with one goal in mind, to save lives. While the pandemic continues to affect all of us around the world, RAIN maintains an optimistic outlook with the hope that things will get better as we keep working together. 

Please consider continuing your support and asking your friends and family to join you in giving to keep children and families protected from further hardship due to COVID-19.  Your generosity means more than you know. Having access to basic essentials like food, water, and soap enables community members to not only have a reprieve from the stress of the pandemic, but be able to send their children to school without worry. Thank you for partnering with us to equip Nigeriens with the necessary resources to endure in the face of extreme adversity.  

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With the limitations of Niger’s health care system and poor access to vaccines, the coronavirus pandemic continues to have major impacts throughout the country.  The number of COVID-19 cases in Niger has remained relatively low at 5,929, but with only 0.4% of people fully vaccinated, there is still a lot of work to be done.  The effects of lockdowns, reduced working hours, job loss, and travel and movement restrictions have increased poverty in Niger to 41.7%, pushing 400,000 more people into extreme poverty. 

Your generosity has allowed RAIN to fulfill immediate needs that address the emerging challenges of the past year.  During the height of the pandemic many schools were shut down, often leading to many students dropping out.  Through our local mentoring program we were able to ensure that most students in our partner schools returned when schools reopened.  For RAIN’s mentored students the drop out rate was only 0.7%, significantly lower than the regional averages of 17%.  This year mentoring programs also focused on teaching proper hygiene to prevent the spread of communicable diseases and keep COVID rates down as much as possible in our partner schools and communities.  We put your gifts to work by distributing soap, establishing washing stations, and partnering with Niger’s Department of Health to raise awareness, allowing our partner communities to remain resilient during this challenging time. 

Our savings and loan programs for women also helped to mitigate some of the added stress on local economies due to the pandemic.  These programs enabled 115 women from rural and nomadic communities to borrow an average of $175 to stabilize their food and water security and create more opportunities to generate income and support themselves financially into the future. 

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to adversely affect Nigerians more than a year and a half later, please consider continuing your support so that these vulnerable communities may endure.  With your help, we will weather this storm together. 

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In the absence of vaccines, masks are critical
In the absence of vaccines, masks are critical

While Covid cases in Niger have risen to 5,356, the governmental response has been succesful.  The spike in cases has subsided and Covid deaths remain low. This is due in part to community level interventions to reduce the transmision of the virus.

With your help, RAIN provided 1,800 masks to ensure elementary and middle school students were not turned away from school for not meeting community health guidelines. This small donation - just 50 cents/mask - was the difference between being barred from school and the ability to continue learning. A small price to pay for an education. Thank you! 

While reinforcing masking, hand washing, and other health protocols, RAIN has continued to focus on the fallout beyond health - helping to meet families' economic and food security needs, which have become even more precarious with Covid. 

RAIN is working with women in our partner communities to establish and support women's entrepreneurial co-ops, so women can continue to earn to feed themselves and their families. Further, RAIN is working with the communities of Betarmatas and Torguit to establish access to safe water -- critical for hygiene, for drinking water, and to establish community gardens for greater access to food. 

Along with our community partners, we strive to find a balance between meeting critical urgent needs and ensuring we're laying the groundwork for greater resiliency over time. The fear is that even without contracting covid, the pandemic could be enough to knock individuals, families, or entire communities off the path of security. We're working with them to ensure covid doesn't stand in the way of education and opportunity. 

If you can, please give today -- or ask your friends or neighbors to join you in giving, so these familes can remain safe and secure as they continue to navigate the economic repurcussions of the pandemic. 

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Distributing masks so students can attend school
Distributing masks so students can attend school

Since our last update, Covid cases in Niger have almost quadrupled to 4,267. Fortunately, the rate of Covid deaths remains low. With this most recent spike in cases, the Nigerien government is, once again, enacting stricter regulations.

After a delayed opening in October (due to nationwide flooding), schools were temporarily closed again from late December through early January. When schools reopened in January, students without masks were turned away. While we hope this new policy will encourage more people to wear masks, it's just as likely to reduce the number of students attending school.

RAIN is stepping in to support primary and secondary school children's education as well as the government's efforts at reducing virus transmission.

We are continuing to enact community wide trainings to not only encourage mask wearing, hand washing, and other such practices but also - critically -  to ensure communities understand why they're being asked to modify their behaviors. For this initiative to work, it cannot be a top-down mandate from the government; there must be local buy-in. RAIN is also distributing an additional 1,800 masks to ensure that students cannot be refused entry to their schools because they don't have access to an appropriate mask. 

If you can, please give today -- or ask your friends or neighbors to join you in giving, so these children can remain safe as the covid pandemic continues. 

One mask costs less than 50 cents. For just a few dollars, euros, or pounds, you could help keep several students in school - safely.

Access to masks ensures studies can continue
Access to masks ensures studies can continue

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Organization Information

Rain for the Sahel and Sahara

Location: Portsmouth, New Hampshire - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @rain4sahara
Project Leader:
Katherine Kolios
Portsmouth, New Hampshire United States
$3,972 raised of $7,746 goal
 
9 donations
$3,774 to go
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