Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Grain Aid program! – Part ONE

As promised, I am here to tell you about our team’s exciting Grain Aid program!

Sorry I don’t have much for pictures to show you, but we are in the midst of setting it up. I know that during the months to come as we have distributions, go visit beneficiaries and roll out training, there will be many photos to share!


What is it all about? Why are we giving out food? (The Rationale)

Niger is the least developed country in the world, ranking last out of 182 countries worldwide in terms of overall development according to the 2009 United Nations Human Development Index. Niger’s harsh climate, poverty, drought and desertification have helped to create an undernourished population that cannot feed itself. By February 2010, it is anticipated that many poor households in Niger will be labelled “highly food insecure,” causing a worrying nutritional situation as off-season products will be absent from their diets and their subsistence grains become unavailable. Villagers are soon entering into the critical period known as the lean season — the months when food stocks are at their lowest. It is also the moment when farm workers need more caloric energy in order to cultivate their fields, since most of the agrarian labour in Niger is performed manually.

Niger is well known for the international outcry during the food security crisis in 2005. Crops that year suffered from late rains, a brutal dry season and an uncommonly high amount of locust damage in some areas. Cereal prices began rising in January 2005, leaving millions unable to buy the quantities of grain they needed. Crop conditions this year look very similar to crop conditions before the 2005 famine. In fact, prices are already rising above what they were in 2005. Our program is attempting to put in place a safety net by buying early at reduced prices and holding these stocks for when the need is highest, and ensuring their availability for program participants.


The food security outlook from Jan-June 2010. Green is food secure, yellow is food insecure (lack of food) and orange is highly food insecure (significant food shortages)ne_medium_fp


Where are we doing the distributions?

We are targeting three locations:

Kodjeri is an isolated village, 20 km from the nearest market with difficult road access. It is near the Burkina Faso border. The village is spread out with huts and fields interspersed. Its population of about 600 is primarily Fulani. The people are primarily animal herders (cattle, sheep and goats) and subsistence farmers. Their primary crops are millet and sourgom. They would have been ok for food this year except that they had a devastating fire that wiped out a large portion of their stocks. This is a village where we already work with the Fulani people.

Kongu is a village region of approximately 10 square kilometres, located 10 km North of Niamey.  The region is populated largely by a Fulani family group of approximately 400 people.  Until 2008, the majority of these family units lived in Niamey. However, the summer of 2008, they were forced out and deemed to be squatters.  Those who were unable to move by the deadline were forcibly removed and their huts and belongings were burned.  Due to poor rainfall in 2009, there is widespread crop failure in the area they now live.  Given the current food prices and if there were no increase in price of the other staples – they estimate that their millet stock should last until March 2010, possibly April.  Then they will be out of food and forced to eat leaves, sell their belongings, or move elsewhere with family who may have the means to help them.

The Urban poor:

Our urban distribution location is in the north-western Niamey community of Koura Kano. Urban families are often overlooked and often do not receive aid when food shortages arrive. This can be even more detrimental to them due to the fact that they often do not own land or livestock, and thus have limited coping mechanisms and all their food must be purchased. According to our own 2009 baseline survey, urban workers in Niamey only have 21% of the economic capacity of their village counterparts who own animals and land and an astounding 20% reported that they didn’t have enough food to feed their family well even one day out of the week, that they were barely scraping by. With critical food shortages quickly approaching, the price of food will be driven up and millet may even become unavailable as supply disappears. Already unable to meet their basic needs, a subsidized grain program would help the most vulnerable families to survive by offsetting the inflated prices and scarcity of food.


Stay tuned for more tomorrow to hear about the objectives, what we are giving them and how it is all going to roll out!! Our team has done a lot of great work on this project- go team!




And just because you all love pictures so much- here is a picture of the well mould that Paul finished and it is already shipped off the Teppe village! They will use this to pour cement moulds for their hand-dug wells so that they don’t cave in. Doesn’t it look great!



1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Good job Paul. Thanks Chantelle for educating us. heather