5 Minutes of Inspiration: How Refugees Help Niger Shorten the Hungry Season

5 Minutes of Inspiration: How Refugees Help Niger Shorten the Hungry Season


In Niger’s Diffa region, refugees and host communities are working together to grow 3-4 months more food than they had before. Find out how. By Emily Janoch.

The Sahel is an incredibly hard place to eke out a living. Every year the Sahara advances a little farther — squeezing out the meager farmland available. Add in frequent conflicts and refugees seeking safety, and you have a recipe for community tensions and starvation. Instead, communities in Niger’s Diffa area were able to work together with refugees to increase food security by three to four months and improve the land’s fertility. How? By working together and focusing on long-term solutions.

The RESPECT project (Reducing Suffering for People Affected by Trans border Conflict in Diffa) worked with 5,833 people in Niger from 2017-2018. It was funded by USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) for $2.8 million and worked in partnership with the local NGO Action for Vulnerable People.

What did we accomplish?

  • People have more food: The project added three to four months of food security for families faced with conflict, migration, and drought.
  • Better savings and financial services: 2,612 people got access to financial services as part of the project. As a result, women were able to improve savings by $6,258 collectively.
  • Improve incomes: The project helped families in the Cash for Work program earn an additional $108 per year.
  • Improved natural resources: With the Cash for Work component, communities improved 365 hectares of land (more than twice the size of London’s Hyde Park) and built 156 kilometers of firebreaks.
The project "Protection and food support for children and their mothers affected by the Diffa crisis.

How did we get there?

  • Work with refugees and host communities: The project worked in 16 villages, and split support between refugees who had fled violence and the local communities that were allowing them to settle.
  • Plan community projects: The project used Cash for Work as a way to improve community land and hopefully increase future productivity and to provide work and income for those families that needed it.
  • Use VSLAs: The project supported 93 Village Savings and Loan Associations to give women a place to save and access credit.
  • Focus on agriculture: The project set up seed fairs and provided agricultural training, so people could grow their own food, rather than having to rely on distributions from NGOs. It provided supplies so communities set up irrigation systems.

Want to learn more?

Check out the final evaluation.

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