The thick calloused soles of the feet of the women with whom I sat in the tiny village of Maijanjaré in Niger, seven hours by road away from the capital Niamey, tell their own story. It is a story of many hardships, of back-breaking labor to dig a bit of land in extremely rocky, hard and dry soil in order to plant and hopefully harvest a bit of millet. It is a story of having to walk two hours each day to collect water.
CARE Niger was established in 1974 in response to famine and has worked on several food security projects since then. The program currently focuses on health and nutrition, natural resources management, education, local governance, conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, microfinance, disaster risk reduction, and emergency preparedness and response.
Niger is the birthplace of our successful and often-replicated Village Savings and Loan Associations program, which economically empowers women and raises their social and political status. The project is known as ‘Mata Masu Dubara’ (MMD), or “ingenious women” or “women on the move.”
Since 2009, CARE Niger has been focusing on creating partnerships with civil society to encourage more sustainable development. The Strategic Plan for 2010-2015 emphasizes disaster risk reduction, strengthens emergency response and prevention, and aims to help create sustainable livelihoods for 150,000 households in extreme poverty.
Latest News from Niger
Many people in Niger have suffered from droughts and an inability to find food. Through CARE's Village Savings and Loan program, Mamata Tinou began a cereal bank in her village of Genki.
SAHEL HUNGER CRISIS
Drought, erratic rains, failed crops, soaring food prices and regional instabilities have left more than 18.7 million people at risk of starvation in the Sahel region of west Africa.
LOOKING FORWARD: Mamata Tinou, Niger
During Niger's drought of 2005, people in the village of Genki walked for hours in the blazing heat, searching for food to feed themselves and their children.
Yet last year, when even worse conditions beset Niger, villagers in Genki stayed put. They were well-fed and so was their livestock. The village's cereal bank was full. Amid one of the world's worst hunger crises — at its peak more than 7 million Nigerians were without adequate food — people from nearby villages traveled to Genki for its excess grain.
Gender-based violence is one of the most widespread – but least recognized – human rights abuses in the world. Globally, one out of three women will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime. This violence is happening to our sisters, mothers, grandmothers, aunts and daughters around the world.
This violence leaves survivors with long-term psychological and physical trauma; tears away at the social fabric of communities; and is used with terrifying effect in conflict settings, with women as the main target.
"My daughter returns from far away, a true miracle," repeats Adama Issaka without ceasing. She caresses and holds her daughter Firdaoussou tightly. They look each other in the eyes for a long time then both break out in laughter.
Firdaoussou is 2 years old and has returned from far away. She has spent nearly half of her life fighting death from malnutrition. She won this fight and now gets to celebrate it every day with her mother in this touching complicity, imbued with smiles, winks and tenderness.
In 1998, CARE worked with 25 institutions in Peru to help pass a law that promoted universal basic education for girls. The law helped to address gender discrimination as well as ensuring that more resources for education reached rural areas of the country. By working with local civic groups, CARE helped to ignite a national movement to broaden girls’ access to basic education.