Tag Archives: Niger

“Like a dry weary land without water” – Volunteer Sr Carmel Ring reflects on Harvest Fast Day

With Harvest Fast Day activities and preparation starting this weekend, Sister Carmel, a religious Sister of Marie Auxiliatrice from the Parish of Our Lady of Muswell in North London, reflects on how God calls us to not only empathise with our brothers and sisters living in poverty, but to put that care into action. Sister Carmel, a retired teacher and missionary, and now a CAFOD Westminster volunteer, explains how you and your parish can help.

Sr Carmel speaking at Mass

Volunteer Sr Carmel getting ready for Harvest Fast Day talks

When during Morning Prayer on the Feast of the Transfiguration I came across the lines “my body pines for you like a dry weary land without water” (Psalm 63), my mind went immediately to the people of Niger, the poorest country in the world, who like too many others on our planet are in the throes of another terrible drought and  its consequent crop failure and lack of food for thousands. I reflected on the request of our Holy Father in Laudato Si’, where he invites us to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and sense how it is for them, and felt compelled to do something about this dreadful situation.

Find resources for fundraising in you parish this Harvest Fast Day

This Harvest CAFOD is telling the story of Hamani, a 74 year-old farmer from the village of Doutchi in southern Niger. A man struggling, with pride and perseverance, to grow enough produce to feed his family and have something over to share with his less fortunate neighbours. Given the havoc being wrought time and again, year in year out since 2010 this is a well-nigh impossible task but nevertheless he is still confident that given some help from us he will manage to grow enough to eat and put aside some seeds to sow for next year’s harvest.  He is not looking for hand-outs, just enough to help him survive with dignity and become self-reliant.

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Hands On: Strengthening bonds

Aichatou Abani is the Integrated Food Security Project Coordinator working on our latest Hands On project in Doutchi, Niger.

Aichatou is working on our latest Hands On project in Doutchi, Niger.

Aichatou Abani is the Integrated Food Security Project Coordinator working on our latest Hands On project in Doutchi, Niger.

My role in the project is to coordinate and manage all the activities: from the preparation, to implementation and evaluation.

The biggest challenge for people in Niger is food security and hunger. It has unfortunately become an ongoing problem in the last few years and is affecting a lot of people.

Involving the community

There has been a strong involvement of the community right from the start in terms of planning this project. We have held awareness-raising sessions to help everyone develop ownership of the goals.

Connect with the people of Doutchi

Following these sessions we have now begun the project and we have carried out certain activities, notably holding meetings with community members to share information with them, and at the same time to get information from them about how we can improve the plans.

We feel that the community knows where it is and where it wants to go. The awareness raising work we have done has really helped the community understand the importance of everything that they have received in support. It’s been a really important piece of work.

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Speak Up climate lobby – making my voice heard

Sarah Hagger-Holt, CAFOD’s Campaigns Engagement Manager, tells us about her experience at the Speak Up climate lobby.

CAFOD climate lobby of parliamentOn 17 June, 9,000 people came to Westminster to speak to their MPs about climate change as part of The Climate Coalition Speak Up For the Love Of lobby of Parliament. They came in twos and threes or in coach-loads. For some it was a simple tube ride, while others got up before dawn or even travelled down by overnight bus. They came from almost every UK constituency.

Couldn’t make it to the lobby? It’s not too late to speak up

I spotted many familiar faces from past marches and lobbies, as well groups of schoolchildren experiencing their first taste of campaigning for change. I saw parents with their babies sleeping in slings, and caught up with a group of Sisters, all well into their 70s, having the time of their lives waving their banners and chatting to other CAFOD supporters.

It can be lonely to be a campaigner

It can be lonely to be a campaigner. I sometimes feel that my voice is tiny compared to the global systems that dominate our world. But this was a day when we were strong: in numbers, in diversity and in commitment for a world where all can flourish. Continue reading

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Advent Appeal: helping children and families affected by malnutrition

The way we treat malnutrition has changed a lot during my career. Today we often use Plumpy’nut, a protein-packed peanut paste with added calories and vitamins, specially formulated to nourish starving children and save their lives. I have seen firsthand how tiny and fragile children can quickly reach a healthy weight after intensive feeding with Plumpy’nut.

About the author: Caroline Kanaiza Swahili, one of CAFOD’s Senior Emergency Response Officers based in Nairobi, speaks of her experience of the projects that help children and families affected by malnutrition.

Before Plumpy’nut became popular, we sometimes used “formula” products, which took much longer to be effective. With Plumpy’nut, the child can show remarkable improvement within 2-3 weeks unless they have other underlying medical issues.

This Advent you can give the gift of hope with CAFOD

This Advent you can give the gift of hope

Help us be there for malnourished children when food is scarce.
http://www.cafod.org.uk/Advent

There are several reasons for Plumpy’nut’s effectiveness. Firstly it has a low risk of contamination. Other treatments require preparation, usually by the mother, and then need to given to the child using a bowl or cup or a spoon, which creates a high risk of contamination. With Plumpy’nut, the child can be fed directly from the packet. It is hygienically very sound.

Secondly it doesn’t require any preparation making it very easy for mothers to adhere to feeding schedule that ultimately facilitate quick recovery. Previous treatments required mothers to spend a significant amount of time preparing the treatment.  With Plumpy’nut there is no cooking, washing and preparation and therefore it facilitates a quick recovery.

Thirdly, few children have to stay at the feeding centres. After being assessed, children are usually sent home with a week’s worth of Plumpy’nut and come back a week later to be assessed again. That means that parents can return home and look after their other children – and earn a living. Before, mothers would sometimes stay at the centre for a few weeks with the malnourished child, and the family’s other children would suffer.

£25 can help us get a month’s supply of Plumpy’nut to a child suffering from malnutrition.


can help us get a month’s supply of Plumpy’nut to a child
suffering from malnutrition.

£40 can equip breastfeeding mothers with the skills necessary prevent the spread of diseases.


can equip breastfeeding mothers with the
skills necessary prevent the spread of diseases.

£50 can deliver food and medical care to malnourished children and their families.


can deliver food and medical care to
malnourished children and their families.

£70 can buy the essential follow-on medicine for children discharged from the feeding centre.


can buy the essential follow-on medicine for children
discharged from the feeding centre.

£100 can pay the monthly salary of a nurse at a nutrition centre.

can pay the monthly salary of a nurse
at a nutrition centre.

The side effects of malnutrition include a lack of appetite, energy and motivation. It can be very difficult to feed children who are malnourished – so treatment needs to be made as easy as possible. The peanut base for Plumpy’nut is very important because it is a taste that children are familiar with, as pulses and other nuts and seeds form part of their normal diet. In the past high energy biscuits have been rejected by children as they were unfamiliar – but children are usually comfortable eating Plumpy’nut.

The Plumpy’nut portions are quite small and dense, so only a little is needed. One portion accounts for nearly a whole meal and is much quicker to administer than a bowl of porridge, which can take 15 minutes. This is important as a child who is severely malnourished needs the nutrients immediately.

CAFOD and our partners recognise the importance of child care practises that stem out from  malnutrition. In addition to provision of plumpy’nut , all primary caregivers to malnourished children are provided with nutrition, health and hygiene education. It focuses on the appropriate infant and young children feeding practices, in order to overcome some of the major causes of malnutrition in developing countries.

We also work with our partners to help ensure that families who are vulnerable have the opportunity to lift themselves from poverty. Treating malnutrition is important, but of course we ultimately want people to overcome poverty and earn a living, because that way they can feed themselves.

CAFOD’s Advent Appeal 2012: http://www.cafod.org.uk/Advent

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Niger: a shelter made from cardboard

Help us respond to the food crisis in Niger>>

I liked Imam Abdowlaye Boukary as soon as I met him. He was about my age, calm, gentle, quietly spoken, with an easy smile. I met him outside the tiny shelter he was sharing with his wife and two children. To call it basic would be an understatement: it was built out of sticks, plastic sheets and cardboard boxes.

The Imam told me that he and his family had left their village because of a disastrous harvest. Today they are living in a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Niamey, Niger’s capital.

“We didn’t have to leave in previous seasons,” he said, “because we managed to harvest some beans. This year there was nothing. I am very attached to my village, and there is no way we would have left if we hadn’t been forced to.

“My village is 95km from here. My wife and I started off on foot with the kids. You can find people who drive you some of the way, but it took us almost two days. Now we have been here for four months. We didn’t have anywhere else to go.” Continue reading

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