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New Partnership Works to Reduce Food Insecurity, Change Lives

Sabon Machi, a rural community in southern Niger, battles chronic food insecurity exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, which has eroded arable lands, reduced water availability and decreased agricultural productivity. An especially poor harvest in late 2014 prompted the establishment of a new partnership to bolster efforts to reduce food insecurity there.

The partnership is between Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel—Enhanced Resilience (REGIS-ER), a USAID project funded, in part, through Feed the Future, and the World Food Program (WFP) in Niger. It aims to increase the resilience of over 1,800 vulnerable households in 48 villages, reaching a total of 12,803 people. Specifically, the partnership will reclaim more than 9,000 acres of degraded farmland, introduce the practice of conservation farming on more than 400 acres and support the planting of 68 home gardens.

Through this partnership, REGIS-ER’s technical expertise in community mobilization, climate-smart agriculture and natural resource management is complemented by WFP’s ability to identify and provide cash and/or food-related assistance to the most vulnerable during the Sahel’s lean season.

REGIS-ER has already conducted community-led total sanitation activities in 17 villages in Sabon Machi, which has resulted in the construction of 425 latrines.  The project also rehabilitated five wells, drilled four boreholes and offered basic hygiene training in the commune, and has launched 50 mother-to-mother support groups and five “safe space” clubs for teenage girls. Sabon Machi is one of 25 communes in Niger and Burkina Faso where REGIS-ER is building the resilience of the most vulnerable households by promoting sustainable livelihoods, strengthening governance, and improving health & nutrition status.  By the end of the five-year project, REGIS-ER hopes to reach up to 250,000 households across the two countries.

REGIS-ER and the World Food Program are encouraging local governmental officials to help propel project success. Harounda Dan Fadji, Mayor of Sabon Machi, demonstrated his personal commitment by devoting five acres of his own land to produce peanuts, millet and cowpea for seed. “The yields were so impressive that people throughout the commune considered it worthwhile to collaborate with the project,” Fadji told local project staff. “REGIS-ER has changed the lives of people in our community and is now increasing its impact,” he added.

The Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced or RISE is a United States Government strategy that aims to strengthen resilience in vulnerable populations in the Sahel so that crisis-based humanitarian assistance is required less frequently. The REGIS-ER project is one of the USAID partners carrying out the RISE strategy. The overall objective of REGIS-ER is to increase the resilience of chronically vulnerable populations in marginal agriculture and pastoral zones in the Sahel regions of Niger and Burkina Faso. More broadly, USAID investments in resilience seek to address the root causes of this chronic vulnerability through nutrition-led agriculture and livestock rearing, better health and hygiene, stronger governance and natural resource management, and awareness of climate change impacts and adaptation to them.​

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