At a glance: Niger

Goats for Niger villages help families cope with crisis

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© UNICEF Niger/2005/Page
Goats will help provide children in Maradi’s villages with food, and their families with extra income.

By Kent Page and Kun Li

MARADI, Niger, 11 August 2005 – UNICEF is providing about 150 villages across Maradi region – the epicentre of Niger’s food crisis – with goats, to help families avoid the worst effects of the crisis. Mothers will have the means to feed their children better, as the goats provide them with milk, cheese, meat and even extra income.

“Look at my children, they are healthy, and they are happy,” said Safiatou, a mother in the village of Safo Nassarawa. “I was given two female goats, because at the time, my children were undernourished. The goat milk is good for my children, and it’s free.”

“I make cheese and sell it, and when I have enough goats, I can slaughter one and sell the meat. I use the money to buy cereals, as well as medicines when my children are sick,” added Safiatou.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF Niger/2005/Page
Safiatou, a mother in the village of Safo Nassarawa, Niger, received two goats from UNICEF.

UNICEF is also supplying each village with a few male goats to insure the animals reproduce. Mother goats give birth to an average of three kids, twice a year; there are now over 700 goats in Safo Nassarawa. Families who have been given goats can keep them as long as they donate the first two baby goats to another woman with undernourished children.

In Safo Nassarawa, a UNICEF-trained community monitoring group –made up entirely of women – monitors children’s growth and determines which families could benefit the most from receiving goats. The monitoring group also counsels other women on best nutrition practices, including exclusive breast-feeding for the first six months of a child’s life.

UNICEF Niger has supplied over 12,000 goats for communities in Niger, helping thousands of vulnerable families cope with the food crisis. The strategy has proven to be effective in protecting children from undernutrition. It also empowers communities and is a step towards preventing the recurrence of similar crises in the future.

UNICEF’s action on the ground

Working closely with its partners on the ground, UNICEF Niger has provided over 41 tons of therapeutic milk, 6.7 tons of therapeutic food and 190 tons of UNIMIX – a life-saving porridge easy for undernourished children to digest. These items have been distributed across Niger to help children in 10 fixed therapeutic feeding centres and 21 outreach therapeutic centres.

In collaboration with the World Food Programme, 187 tons of corn-soy blend and 614 tons of cereals have been delivered to 62 affected villages, benefiting an estimated 200,000 people, including 40,000 children under five. In addition, about 900 tons of cereals are being delivered to another 90 villages, and approximately 6 tons of seed (corn, wheat, potato) have also been provided.

To empower the local communities, UNICEF is supporting the creation of cereal banks and helping train health workers. Education about nutrition and how to deal with shortages has also been provided in local villages.

Efforts are also underway to prevent the food situation in neighbouring countries, including Nigeria, Mali, and Burkina Faso, from worsening.


 

 

Video

11 August 2005:
UNICEF New York correspondent Kun Li reports on UNICEF’s work in supplying goats to help families in Niger cope with the food crisis.

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8 August 2005:
UNICEF New York correspondent Dan Thomas reports on the massive relief effort to save thousands of severely undernourished children in Niger.

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