Improving Food Security Program in Niger
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, holding the fourth lowest position on the 2007 Human Development Index (174 out 177). Sixty-one percent of its people live on less than US$1 a day. Like the rest of the country, the Azawak and Tadress regions in central Niger were affected by a series of disasters in 2004 and 2005—drought, locust invasion, flash floods—with devastating effects on livestock. Seventy percent of the population, who rely on livestock for both nutrition and wealth, lost more than half of their herds; 30 percent lost all of their animals
IRD’s food security program in Niger, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was designed to strengthen the livelihoods systems of vulnerable people in these regions.
IRD has sold approximately 4,000 metric tons of rice donated through the USDA and has used the generated proceeds to improve household food security through increased agricultural production, animal restocking and health, rehabilitation and construction of water points for livestock, creation of pasture reserves, and capacity building of local NGOs.
An additional 1,600 metric tons of bulgur wheat was given to community managed cereal banks for direct distribution to very poor households.
During the 18-month program, IRD has:
1. Reconstituted the herds of vulnerable households by distributing 4,400 goats to 2,175 families who suffered significant losses in the droughts and floods of 2004, 2005, and 2006.
2. Established/rehabilitated 18 artificial ponds and 20 water wells for animals, therefore increasing water available to livestock in the region by approximately 30,000 m3 (or 30,000,000 liters).
3. Promoted 160 hectares of pasture reserves, which contributed to reducing vulnerability to drought when pasture is often scarce or non-existent.
4. Increased the operational capacity of 20 local nongovernmental organizations to respond to the needs of target populations through training and technical assistance in proposal writing, record keeping, project management, human resources management, information technology, technical training and know how, donor relationships and expanded access to resources.
5. Established fire-breaks by clearing 20 meters bands around pasture lands to prevent their destruction by bush fires.