The chief of Kaiwa Ganwo village in Niger has been experiencing an emotion about food that has been in short supply in recent months – joy.
Months of drought had left his remote community running out of supplies and hunger was becoming widespread.
But an emergency distribution of food by a Tearfund partner has transformed the outlook for villagers: ‘Thank you for the blessing of food that you are bringing us,’ said the chief.
As a mark of gratitude for the help received, villagers wrote a letter to Tearfund saying, ‘We have never seen a food supply which has been as well distributed as this one.
‘The people of Kaiwa, large and small, male and female, thank you with pleasure for this aid which we will never forget. This aid has filled our hearts with joy and pride – thank you. May God bless you.
‘We are very satisfied and happy with your unforgettable offerings for the people of Kaiwa village.’
The food supplies mean residents of this agriculturally-dependent community won’t have to eat their recent harvest, which was better than last year.
But many face selling their crops to pay off debts they accumulated during the height of the drought when they needed to borrow money to buy food, which rose significantly in price.
However Tearfund’s help for the village will continue when we help set-up a grain bank there.
Grain banks enable people to buy food at reduced prices in times of shortage. After each harvest, a family will put a sack of grain into the bank, plus extra by way of ‘interest’.
Generous giving to Tearfund’s West Africa food crisis appeal means we can help people support themselves.
We’re now able to establish more grain banks, supply more seeds and tools, and operate more cash-for-work schemes.
Appeal cash also means we can reduce people’s vulnerability to climatic disasters by extending the introduction of drought-resistant crops, improving farming techniques and water sources.
Hunger remains a serious problem in Niger where 2.5 million people out of a population of 16 million still face food shortages in 2013 due to repeated harvest failures. Chronic poverty is also a factor. Niger is ranked 186th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index.
Tearfund has been working in Niger for more than two decades. Our partner Jemed operates in the Abalak region helping Tuareg pastoralists with clean water supplies, ways to improve their farming, literacy training and primary education.
Fellow partner UEEPN (Union of Evangelical Protestant Churches Niger) works in the Dosso region. It helps stop hunger by teaching people about market gardening, setting up grain banks and tackling soil erosion. It also provides toilets to tackle poor sanitation.