All of the Sahel region in West Africa is regularly affected by droughts and food crises, and Niger is hit particularly hard by this cycle. Here alone, around 5.5 million people have no access to a secure supply of food.
The Tahoua region has a population of just over 3.3 million people, making it the third most populous in the whole country, and Tahoua city itself is home to just under 100,000 of them. As with elsewhere in Niger, helping people to develop more secure sources of food is of prime importance.
The effect of malnutrition on children can be devastating in both the long and short term. It is, therefore, essential that aid is provided quickly and effectively when famine strikes. However, it would be far better to prevent the famine taking hold in the first place.
Not only would prevention put children at less risk of the severe developmental stunting caused by acute and chronic malnutrition, but it would actually be cheaper as well. The United Nations has estimated that the cost of preventing malnutrition is just $1 a day, whilst this rises to $80 once a full scale food crisis takes hold.
Whilst responding to food crises with emergency aid will remain important in the short term, building stronger food systems has to be the long term goal. Droughts are going to continue to reoccur and local people must be able to take more control in overcoming famine themselves.
Early warning systems will help the international community respond faster, but agricultural assistance would help those most affected take the lead in providing solutions. Just as important are services like nutritional education for parents and functioning healthcare, which will help alleviate problems all year round.
What SOS Children is doing to help
Since 2008, we have been working with the people of Tahoua to help them overcome hardships and build more stable lives for themselves and their children. We remain committed to ensuring that all children get the childhood they deserve.
Help in an emergency
In response to a particularly severe drought in 2010, we started providing emergency relief, that reached over 10,000 people. The food packages and medical assistance that we provided were essential for fending off the immediate problems people faced.
Following the crisis, we worked with villages to build a more food secure future. This included constructing cereal banks to provide a dependable supply in the future. In the long run improved water management and new varieties of seeds could also help mitigate future crises.
Social support for families
Our SOS social centre in Tahoua offers important services to the local community and helps to ensure every child has a loving home. Our family strengthening programme works directly with parents in the region to help them cope and provide the best possible care for their children.
Through our SOS social centre we also provide counselling and advice to people who are suffering from illnesses, like tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Additionally, our SOS medical centre gives assistance to around 2,000 people every year and provides adults and children with basic care and advice.
In need of a home
When, for whatever reason, children can no longer live with their parents, they can find a loving and affectionate home in our Children's Village. Here, they are able to continue living with their brothers and sisters and are given all the care they need by their dedicated SOS mother.
All of these children attend the SOS nursery and SOS school, with around 75 local children in the former and 210 in the latter. This helps them to make friends in the local community and form bonds that will help them throughout their lives.
The SOS Children's Village in Tahoua is home to children who have been orphaned and abandoned. Here they flourish under caring support in a family environment. Will you sponsor a child in Niger today?