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Niger: Cash-for-work soil improvement project

Source: Oxfam International - Mon, 30 Apr 2012 12:36 PM
Author: Oxfam International / Fatoumata DIABATE
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"I used to be able to harvest 100 bundles of millet from my field. This year, I have only had three.” Like the majority of Nigerian farmers, Son Allah, is a victim of the poor rains.

“We have suffered floods followed by droughts. In the middle of the season, when the heavy rain came it ran straight off the dry earth on the plateau, flooding the village and destroying several mud huts. Even the concrete mosque was nearly destroyed."

Usually, Son Allah is able to feed his large family from his millet harvest and the extra money he earns from selling his meat kebabs but this year with no harvest he is forced to try and survive on the money he earns form selling kebabs alone – and it’s no way near enough. There is no food. The reserves are empty and more than 6 million people in Niger are now facing a severe food crisis.

The work initiated by Oxfam to reclaim 200 hectares of land degraded by the flash floods offers the community a two-fold solution:  It provides 83 vulnerable households with an income plus it protects the environment

The people involved in the 'cash for work' scheme" are making half moon shaped irrigation channels, so that when the next rainy season arrives, the rain water will be trapped and forced to permeate the soil rather than run off the surface. In doing so it will help replenish the water table and facilitate the regeneration of vegetation and agricultural land.

Son Allah is an expert in this kind of work. He has been doing it for the last 15 years in the surrounding villages and has seen the benefits first hand. Son Allah is currently working on the Oxfam project in his own village. "I can make three per day”.

 At the end of work in April, Son Allah hopes to see the results of all this hard work. He will have an income to help see him through the hungry months – which is just beginning. "With help, we can plant trees and sow grass before the rainy season comes. Hopefully, if we have a good rainy season, we will have pasture for our cattle and in a few years, the plateau may even be reforested.”

 

Moumkaïla Hassan, 42, and Ayouba Niandou digging a reservoir next to the vegetable gardens to protect the crops if the river floods.

 

The gardens next to the Niger river were destroyed by flooding flowing the heavy rain in August 2010. Today, Guédéné's garden is portected from future flooding thanks to the raised river banks. The project was built by the Nigerian Farmer Federation with help from Oxfam.

The raised ground next to the Niamey river protects the vegatable gardens from flooding when the river overflows.

The workers with their work tools on the cash for work project. Gobro, Departement of Tibiri, region of Dosso, 1000 km east from Niamey

Son Allah Maitchangal, the village butcher, cuts the sheep into pieces

Son Allah Maitchangal, 45, the village butcher, grills the beef keebabs

Cash for wortk to build the half-moon structures on bare soil. The structures are designed to preserve the rain water when it next rains, refilling the water table and encouraging vegetation to grow back.

Son Allah Maitchangal, 45 ansand Mme Tani Bangali, 40 are working on the cash for work scheme to dig  the half-moon structures on bare soil. The structures are designed to preserve the rain water when it next rains, refilling the water table and encouraging vegetation to grow back.

 

Oussoumanou Djibril, 63, father of 15, has been working on the cash for work project since the start of February  2012.

The dry surroundings in Bermon desperate for the next rain.

Workers on the cash for work scheme.

Cash for work to build the half-moon structures on bare soil. The structures are designed to preserve the rain water when it next rains, refilling the water table and encouraging vegetation to grow back.

Amina Mando - a member of the cash for work scheme to improve the condition of the soil.

 

This blog is part of AlertNet’s Solutions for a Hungry World story package.

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of the Thomson Reuters Foundation. For more information see our Acceptable Use Policy.

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