17 January 2012
Thousands of migrants who fled to Niger after the Libya revolution are being helped to start new lives by Tearfund partners.
Some 650 families in the cities of Agadez and Tchirozerine are benefiting from a food-for-work scheme run by a local church called CEN, where each family receives rice, beans and cooking oil.
In return, they are employed to carry out work to improve the local environment, including tree planting, gardening and soil rejuvenation.
Planting trees not only improves the visual appeal of the communities but ultimately will add to the amount of shade available in a very dry and hot climate.
The local council in Agadez has provided an eleven hectare site for the migrants to do market gardening. Here wells are being prepared to provide irrigation for a cooperative consisting of 100 families.
Plastic littering is a big problem in these communities and teams of refugees are also helping collect such rubbish which is then used in the manufacture of plastic bricks which can be used for paving.
Church training is enabling the migrants to form cooperatives to produce and sell the bricks in an organised way.
All this church-coordinated work has won the approval of the local authorities which are now inviting CEN leaders to meetings about development issues.
Pastor Koupra, of the CEN church, said of the work’s impact, ‘At the beginning, the migrants were miserable and unemployed but now they’re gaining confidence and motivation and are occupied by various activities.
‘People have really bought into our projects by participating in a very active way. We wanted to show the community and Christians that our God can do great things if we are faithful in little things.’