Donate ▸

Harvesting hope in the Sahel

Niger, June 16, 2012

Share this story:
  • tumblr
  • pinterest
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Climate change and encroaching desert are making droughts increasingly severe in this landlocked nation. Mercy Corps is training farmers on new techniques to increase their harvest yields, even in times of little rain. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Families eat fresh produce from the village vegetable plots that Mercy Corps helped them establish. They also sell surplus in the market to feed others and generate income to pay for health services, school fees and new supplies to expand their gardens. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Communities get the tools they need to build and repair wells, providing a water source for their vegetable plots. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Women in the villages of Tillaberi sing while tending their healthy crops. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Market day remains busy, as people from the surrounding villages come to the central town with whatever they still have to sell. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mercy Corps worked with dairy farmers and female business owners for the past two years to increase their productivity and connect them with better markets. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    With our support, three dairy cooperatives more than doubled the daily milk output of their herds. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Milk is an essential part of the diet here; it is especially important to keep children healthy without staple grains to last through the lean season. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Milk production can only be sustained if livestock are kept healthy. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Abrahim Kemou supports nine children with his herd of cattle, which were vaccinated through Mercy Corps’ program that has improved the health of 18,000 animals. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Abrahim is optimistic that his family will weather the hunger crisis with the healthy cows they can rely on for milk — and can sell if they need money for food. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    With more fresh milk available, Mercy Corps provided small grants to 2,556 businesses processing, selling, storing and transporting the dairy products. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Most of the business owners are women, many of whom discovered even more lucrative methods to produce and sell yogurt. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Support to women entrepreneurs has been one of the greatest successes of the dairy market program. They have grown their businesses and can afford to feed their families despite the hunger crisis. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    With funding from the Gates Foundation, Mercy Corps has also provided 370 goats to vulnerable women in the hard-hit Tillaberi region. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Santou Hamidou is breeding the two goats she received in December. Selling the babies will allow her to buy food for her six children as the hunger crisis worsens over the summer. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    The Gates grant also provided Igue Moussa with four chickens that Mercy Corps trained her to care for. A widow who has been living with her brothers, Igue was able to buy a goat with her poultry business profits, and then sold that for a large profit as well. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    “This has changed my life. I can earn money to meet my needs. I can help my children, and I am no longer dependent on my brothers’ charity.” Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    With the income from her chickens, Igue is even able to share food with her neighbors as they are struggling to survive the desperate circumstances in Niger. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  • 
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    These smiles make it clear: A little help can go a long way. Find out how Mercy Corps is responding to urgent needs. You can help more families survive this hunger crisis — and thrive. Donate today. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

The hunger crisis is devastating families across the Sahel, and our emergency response work is crucial to averting famine here. But so are long-term solutions that help people withstand the cycles of drought and hunger that plague this region.

In communities where Mercy Corps has been working for years, you can see the impact in thriving vegetable gardens, brimming wells, healthier livestock and smiling faces. As these images show, Niger is a vibrant, resilient country.

Originally published on The Huffington Post, June 26, 2012.