How can we remain hopeful when our main means of survival requires constant adaptation and the knowledge to do so? This is the challenge facing the inhabitants of the Fabidji commune in Niger, whose crops are being affected by the disastrous effects of climate change. A project aims to strengthen their resilience through agroecology.
The project aims to improve food security and resilience to climate change by empowering and building the capacities of farming families. To achieve this, the project focuses on agroecology training in agro-pastoral production, rainy season market gardening, the use of meteorological data, the production and use of farmer seeds, environmental preservation and conservation, the prevention and fight against malnutrition in children, functional literacy and income-generating activities.
The project is partly funded by the SDC.
The 47,000 inhabitants of the rural commune of Fabidji, in south-western Niger, live mainly from agriculture and livestock farming. This commune, the size of Neuchâtel and Geneva combined, is being hit hard by the effects of climate change. The rains can sometimes be very heavy, flooding the fields and causing some of the crops to rot. Then they stop abruptly, causing farmers to lose what little harvest they had left. What’s more, the desert is gaining ground on part of the arable land.
Rakia Moussa is no stranger to the difficulties associated with climate change. A resident of the commune, she remembers the winter of 2021, which was particularly catastrophic for harvests: “We suffered from famine. We only ate once a day, and our children cried from hunger. We made them porridge to soothe them.”
Agroecology, the solution of choice
Not all seasons are so catastrophic, but development projects in the communes supported by SWISSAID have to take into account an ever-changing climatic context. This is the aim of a new project in the commune of Fabidji, which relies primarily on agroecology to boost food security. By growing quality seeds adapted to local conditions and using natural fertilizers, crops become more resistant and farmers are no longer dependent on market costs. 375 farmers attend practical training courses on soil fertilization and crop health. Trainees then share their knowledge with other farmers in their village.
We suffered from famine. We only ate once a day, and our children cried from hunger. We made them porridge to soothe them.
Rakia Moussa, 30, mother of 2. Seeds and food parcels have enabled the population to overcome the crisis, and they are now committed to ensuring that they are no longer left destitute in the face of climatic hazards.
Gardening even under the rain
SWISSAID also encourages families to continue market gardening even during the rainy season, which is normally devoted to cereal crops. “We have benefited from seeds for off-season cultivation. They have enabled us to produce lettuce, carrots, cabbage and squash”, explains the 30-year-old farmer. Generally practiced only in the dry season, which requires a lot of irrigation, market gardening is a good way of diversifying a family’s diet. What’s more, it enables the produce to be sold at a good price on the markets, since few people grow vegetables in this season and it is therefore more difficult to find them on the markets.
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Thanks to her knowledge, Rakia Moussa hopes to avoid reliving the distress of the previous season. And the project, which has just been set up, holds out the hope that every inhabitant will be able to improve their food security and strengthen their resilience in the face of an increasingly hostile environment.