|By Admin1 (admin) on Thursday, July 05, 2001 - 7:48 am: Edit Post|
Peace Corps Programs in Niger
Peace Corps Programs in Niger
Peace Corps assigns Volunteers to work in agriculture, the environment, and health in rural communities, where 80 percent of Niger's population lives. Teams of Peace Corps Volunteers work together with the overarching goal of attaining household food security, which is the assurance of sufficient nutrition for all families.
Agricultural production is the number one concern for villagers in Niger, a country with extremely variable rainfall and predominantly sandy soils. Volunteers work directly with motivated farmers at the village level to find durable solutions to the problem of declining crop yields by introducing innovative concepts, such as water harvesting, crop rotation, and soil fertility management.
One Volunteer, working one-on-one with several farmers in his village, established demonstrations and tests of various soil conservation and water harvesting techniques. When the rainy season arrived, community members noticed an observable difference in productivity between the fields of the farmers the Volunteer had worked with and those of their neighbors. As a follow-up to the demonstration fields, the Volunteer helped organize a series of farmer-to-farmer exchanges.
Farmers in the area were shown the demonstration fields and given hands-on instruction in the techniques employed. The Volunteer also involved local government agriculture agents as well as model farmers in the exchanges, so that farmers would be capable of identifying local resource people in the future.
In Niger, where food production is a foremost concern, protecting the fragile environment is not a priority for many local people. Working in the Household Food Security Project, Volunteers offer communities alternative means for food acquisition to ensure that food of the right quantity and quality is consumed in the household all year round.
For one project, Volunteers trained 168 Nigeriens in gardening techniques. As a result of the training, participants established gardens in their communities using improved techniques such as: double digging, inter-cropping, alternative natural pesticides, and anti-wind and water erosion practices.
Niger suffers from one of the world's highest infant mortality rates. Roughly 25 percent of children under the age of two are malnourished. Volunteers are working to improve the nutritional status of children and pregnant and lactating women in rural areas by educating mothers on how to improve their feeding and dietary practices. Volunteers also promote HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
Volunteers often accompany traditional midwives on home visits to educate community members about health-related issues, such as basic hygiene, food storage, oral rehydration therapy, growth monitoring, porridge and other enriched foods, and improved weaning practices. They also encourage families, and especially pregnant and lactating women, to visit health centers in order to improve their health and the nutritional status of their children.
Given the large number of young men who travel to other countries in search of employment during the dry season, one Volunteer initiated an HIV/AIDS public awareness campaign in her region. She conducted education sessions in four villages with 105 men and 24 women.