Nomadic Notes

RAIN Partners with MAZON and The Global Hunger Foundation to Create Long Term Solutions to Food Insecurity

The food crisis in Sub Saharan Africa last summer may have abated in fierceness, but is not completely gone. Rains have since come, relieving the ravages of drought, but food prices remain high, crops are diminished, and essential livestock vanished.  One could safely say that in regions so remote, so arid and harsh as is rural Niger, communities are more or less always facing a crisis of food insecurity.

The nomadic cultures of rural Niger are primarily herders, not farmers.  The transition to growing sustainable crops for food and for income does not occur overnight.  With the help of our partners, RAIN facilitates this transition, allowing each community to take the lead. 

It all begins with a School Market Garden – 1,000 square meters of sustainable agriculture, planned, planted and harvested by the community themselves, learning about drip irrigation, farming techniques, and food preparation for market along the way.  Parents see their children fed at school, and become motivated to do more. Women’s cooperatives form to dry and can produce for sale to local markets.  Small herds of goats are incorporated, along with animal husbandry education, to replenish lost livestock and create food and income for both families and schools.

Within one year, the school market garden supports itself. Within 3-5 years, the garden and the community enterprises share a mutually profitable support, and can keep growing in scope. Livelihoods are created through the investment into community enterprises such as artisan and agricultural cooperatives, grain grinding, and cereal banks.  With a sustainable means of food production with surplus stored, income producing activities, and the know how to keep it going, nomadic communities can face each impending crisis from a position of strength and empowerment to avert disastrous consequences.

We would like to thank The Global Hunger Foundation and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, for sharing our vision of sustainable food security in Niger.


MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger is a leading national nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing and alleviating hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds.  For more information, visit


The Global Hunger Foundation is dedicated to raising consciousness and funds to prevent and alleviate hunger in the developing world by empowering women towards sustainable, organic agricultural production; and at the same time advocating for the end to hunger and its causes.  Through the Nancy Daly Memorial Grant, the foundation will support establishing a program in nomadic community schools instructing children in the principles of sustainable, organic agriculture, while incorporating lessons of gender equality, empowerment, and leadership. This partnership represents the first grant for the newly formed foundation.

For more information, visit


RAIN friend Brigi Rafini new Niger Prime Minister

Posted in Niger government by rain4sahara on April 12, 2011
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 The new President of Niger, Mohamadou Issoufou, has named Brigi Rafini, a Tuareg, as Prime Minister. M. Rafini is a former member of the Niger National Assembly, as well as the former Mayor of  Iferouane, in the Air Massif.

Brigi Rafini, pictured here, at right, meeting with RAIN’s program assistant, Mohamoud Mouta, is a good friend of RAIN.

This picture was taken in 2009, when Mr. Rafini was Mayor of Iferouane.  I took the photo during one of the regular meetings between the Mayor and RAIN, discussing ways to collaborate to improve development in the region.

We are pleased to congratulate Mr. Rafini on his new post and look forward to continuing our fruitful collaborations.

-Bess Palmisicano

Food Crisis in Niger Featured in the New York Times

Dear Friends,

There is an article featured today’s New York Times by Adam Nossiter about the scope of the food crisis in Niger, including a slideshow.

 [See the article here:]     

Prayers in Danganari. Half of Niger’s 15 million people face a food shortage, officials said.

Nossiter deftly captures the cause and scope of the crisis; the severity of need, the displacement with the endless search for food, how hunger disrupts children’s education.  He also highlights the active role the new government has been playing in giving more of the population access to food, in sharp contrast to the previous
administration.  This is great news for RAIN and our circle of donors, that the new government may possibly become a partner in aid instead of an obstacle. 

We are hoping this article increases awareness of this very pressing need and can help ignite the passion to give a helping hand to our friends in West Africa.

To donate online to the RAIN Emergency Food Aid fund, please visit:

Checks can also be sent to: RAIN/PO Box 545/Newmarket, NH/03857.

We will continue to keep you posted on our progress in bringing relief to these communities!

Bess Palmisciano

Niger Food Crisis

Signs of Drought in Niger