Habibou Alassane, his wife, and nine children are farmers in Tourbey, a remote village in Niger, a country in western Africa where nearly half of the population struggles with getting enough food. Photo by Francois Therrien for CRSLearn more about CRS' work in Niger
Loving God, we pray that all people gain opportunities to express their dignity through meaningful work.
Catholic social teaching focus:
Option for the Poor
Life in Niger is ruled by the seasons. There’s the dry season, the hot season, the rainy season—and the hungry season. The hungry season comes every year, when food supplies run out and prices rise. Poor families face the difficult choice between feeding their children and meeting other basic needs.
Habibou Alassane, his wife and nine children are farmers in Tourbey, a remote village in Niger. Usually during the hungry season, Habibou had to leave his family and travel—sometimes very far away—in order to find work. If he didn’t work, his family went hungry.
But this year, for the first time in 15 years, Habibou does not have to leave Tourbey. A Catholic Relief Services project called Bonbatu hired Habibou and other farmers to dig reservoirs. The work provides farmers with income, and the reservoir will provide water for crops and livestock and prepare the fields for planting.
Bonbatu means “I become stronger.” Habibou’s family is stronger. His children are well fed. And his fields are ready for the planting season.
Facts to consider
- Niger was ranked last out of 187 countries in the latest Human Development Index, with 71.3% of the population living below the poverty line.
- Niger is home to 16 million people. Due to extreme weather patterns in 2013, the Nigerien government projected that nearly half of the population (7.5 million people) would suffer food insecurity by April 2014.
- The majority of Niger’s people (90 percent) depend on rain-fed, traditional crop production and processing for their livelihoods. However, farmers are regularly unable to support their families this way. Habibou’s village, Tourbey, is located in a region that has experienced agricultural deficits each year for the past 13 years.
- In Niger, the dry season stretches for 9 long months between September and May. March through May is known as the “hot season,” when the sun is at its most fierce and the earth bakes. When the heat finally breaks, it’s time for the rainy season, from June through August. In a year following a poor harvest, the hungry season can begin as early as February and stretch all the way to October.
- Last year, CRS’ Bonbatu project distributed seeds to 4,176 households, provided income-generating projects and grants to 2,400 individuals, and distributed small livestock to 2,000 women.