Food security of vulnerable population groups in the Tillabéri region

Project description

Title: Food security of vulnerable population groups in the Tillabéri region
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Niger
Lead executing agency: Ministère du Plan, de l’Aménagement du Territoire et du Développement Communautaire
Overall term: 2015 to 2018

Niger. Woman harvesting chillies in Tillabéri. © GIZ (Image: ProSAR)

Context

The basis for food security in the Niger is fragile although it is primarily an agrarian economy. Climate changes resulting in increasing water shortages, ongoing desertification, soil erosion, and frequent drought and flooding disasters play havoc with agricultural activities, and lead to severe supply crises. The health of the population is poor due to chronic and recurrent acute undernourishment for extended periods.

Tillabéri is among the regions that suffers most from food insecurity. Women and young children are particularly affected. Due to a lack of food, women are exposed to high risks during pregnancy and childbirth, and while breastfeeding. Early childhood undernourishment, especially in the first two years of a child’s life, usually leads to irreparable impairment of mental and physical development and a higher mortality rate. Most of the population is currently unable to independently meet its food needs and to reduce the chronic and acute undernourishment of children. Furthermore, the people lack secure access throughout the year to agricultural and livestock services and advisory support, to health services and drinking water.

Objective

Food security has improved for households with vulnerable individuals, particularly women of reproductive age.

Approach

The project draws on the lessons learned and the effective and innovative approaches of the predecessor project. In particular, it promotes the health, agriculture and livestock sectors as well as ten partner communities and their health districts.

Governmental and non-governmental services and actors in the health sector are receiving support in their work to prevent and treat both undernutrition and malnutrition. In addition, the project builds in particular on the successfully developed approach involving women’s self-help groups at village level.

Appropriate crop and livestock production systems are being promoted in order to improve the yields and diversity of foodstuffs produced in the villages. The project also encourages non-farm income-generating activities with a view to increasing disposable income and therefore access to food.

The project combines transfer services with structural development measures and training activities. The aim is to ensure that greater attention is paid in future to nutritional issues in municipal development plans.

The project is cooperating with Welthungerhilfe, with which it has also entered into a subsidy agreement. The regional experiences gained by each act in a complementary manner, and can result in more effective implementation.

Results

Initial positive results have already become evident during the first year of the project.

Health. A technical assessment of health stations within the project region was completed and assistance was provided for renovations and equipment. Awareness-raising and continuing professional training was carried out for health care workers and local decision-makers on preventing undernutrition and malnutrition.

Thanks to regular training activities on nutrition and hygiene issues, the 27 local women’s self-help groups that have been established so far can prevent or treat mild cases of undernutrition. In addition, they act as multipliers of this knowledge within their village communities.

Crop and livestock farming. More than 4,000 households have been reached through information and training measures on improving agricultural practices.

Demonstration plots for higher yield seeds and improved cultivation techniques have been prepared in 21 villages ahead of the rainy season. At the same time, 20 vulnerable households in each village are receiving support in the form of seeds. These activities are designed to improve the availability of foodstuffs such as millet and beans. By promoting vegetable growing in 20 villages, greater nutritional diversity was achieved in the households while simultaneously supplementing incomes.

More than 100 women from food insecure households now keep goats of a particularly resistant and productive breed. The milk produced is a valuable supplement to their children’s nutrition. In accordance with the principles of solidarity, the first litter of young goats are given to other community members so that additional vulnerable households in the respective villages will also benefit in the future.

Niger. In Dargol, goats are given to female-led households. © GIZ (Image: PromAP)

Women’s groups aiming to engage in additional income-generating activities are currently being established in all of the partner villages. As a result, they will be more resilient in the event of crop failures and will be able to purchase foodstuffs that they do not produce themselves as well as health care services.