Rain for the Sahel and Sahara (RAIN) has three main areas of programming: access to food & water, access to education, and access to income generating opportunities (aka jobs).
So basically all the things. Solid, right?
Here’s how that’s working out for us:
· Food & Water – Niger, like much of the world right now, has been experiencing severe weather as a result of climate change. Increased drought has, in turn, minimized harvest yields. In spite of this past year being a particularly bad harvest year, RAIN’s drip-irrigated gardens produced 3x the crop of the previous year and, with that extra crop, the communities were able to sell more of their yield, bringing in 5x the profit! There's a lot of community interest in expanding this program and we're hoping to dig 5 more wells in the next 2 years which would mean way more access to water and substantially increased gardening capacity.
· Education – We have an amazing mentoring program for primary school students but most of the communities where we work have never had a middle school that was close enough to send their students. Now, finally, the government is starting to open up a couple of schools, so last year we piloted a middle school mentoring program. With RAIN’s supplementary courses, it was the only school in the region that was able to remain open, in spite of nationwide strikes and, as a result, they were able to complete their entire curriculum. The school’s first class of graduating students had a 100% pass rate on the first-round national exams! These new schools are a huge opportunity for rural communities but without sufficient support, the middle schools could struggle... which undercuts community buy-in. They need to do well enough from the get-go that people believe they are worth the sacrifice of sending a child to school, rather than keeping the child home to help with chores. In addition to expanding to reach more elementary school students, we're hoping to expand our pilot program to reach two new rural middle schools! We're also increasing the number of students at our residential middle school program.
· Income Generation – We run “Savings & Loans” groups where women learn the basics of finance and entrepreneurship. Last year, we had 100% repayment of those loans and over 95% of them were repaid on time! Women are creating entrepreneurial networks to corner the market on everything from daily needs, like wash basins, to festival splurges, like a goat for Eid.
Together, these programs provide for the short term while setting communities up with the knowledge, skills, and infrastructure to keep on keepin' on.
Help make that happen.