A Year with RAIN

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Rockflower funded Rain for Sahel and Sahara’s Rain Garden. Recently, we received an update on the outcomes of the project in Niger.

Niger is a land-locked country covered predominantly by the Sahara Desert. The Tillabery region is one of the most vulnerable areas in the world to the effects of climate change. With temperature increases expected to be 1.5 times higher than the rest of the world, Niger is faced with higher inter-and intra-annual variability in rainfall, resulting in more frequent and extreme droughts and floods. This significantly impacts Niger’s already fragile soil, crop production, and availability of potable water.

The Tillabery region is where the two rain gardens that provide for 60 women in the cooperative are located. During the 2018-2019 program year, the Nassile and Tagantassou gardens produced over 46,000 lbs. of crops, such as cabbages, carrots, eggplants, green peppers and tomatoes. This enabled the women in the program to feed their families contributing to nutritious and diverse diets across their communities and to sell surplus crops for an additional profit.

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The Nassilé gardeners engaged in additional income generating activities to earn 274% of the previous year’s total (594,050 fCFA) – their increased earning power was due in large part to a new cereal bank initiative (271,900 fCFA with stock remaining). The tomato crop was infested by nematodes, soil-dwelling crop pests, but this was remedied by crop rotation. Staff visits for monitoring were limited due to security concerns over the close proximity to Mali.

Gardeners in Tagantassou increased the group’s income to bring in 411% of the previous year’s earnings (150,000 fCFA) to contribute to their economic independence and garden sustainability. The Tagantassou garden faced significant challenges, including an excess of plant debris (stalks of millet, sorghum, and weeds), loss of seedlings due to animal/pest invasion, and insufficient available well water. The gardens were reconstructed, training sessions were held, and an additional well was created. The possibility of bio-briquettes to remedy the excess plant debris is also under discussion after RAIN was informed by Rockflower’s partnership with RUGLI via their Bio-Briquette Project.

Both gardens installed borehole wells over 50m in depth with solar powered submersible pumps. In Nassilé, the well produces 1.5 m3/hour of potable water, and in Tagantassou, the well produces 3.5 m3/hour. Resulting in sufficient water for consumption and reducing time poverty for women.

As risks due to climate change increase, the potential in RAIN’s work is being watched closely. In the 2019-20 program year, RAIN will expand our Sustainable Agriculture program into two new communities, Imboraghan and Betarmatas, including borehole wells, while also expanding existing gardens in Tagantassou and Nassilé.

There is an opportunity to help communities turn subsistence agriculture into a profitable business and build resilience.

Sustainable Agriculture Programming with RAIN

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Last year, Rockflower supported RAIN in their goal of achieving two of our five keys, Access to Food and Water and Economic Empowerment. The Sustainable Agriculture programming in Nassilé and Tagantassou was strengthened due to our support, particularly as the need for such a program has increased due to a difficult agricultural year in western Africa.

Nassilé began the next growing season in September by meeting to assess their past revenue and decide on a timeline of implementation. In addition to meeting, they received practical training to enhance their gardening and increase their knowledge of market economics. The garden was started by choosing a high ground settlement to avoid flooding during the heavy seasonal rains. Then the land was cleared so that it could be plowed and levelled. Irrigation was installed resulting in 72 garden beds. October saw the first transplanting of tomato, eggplant and yalo crops. In addition to these crops, the nursery beds also have lettuce, green pepper, cabbage, carrot and onion.



Tagantassou had their first meeting to discuss preparations and the successes they had last year. The women were satisfied with last year’s production, but were constrained due to a lack of well water and caterpillars invading the tomato crop. They plan to utilize a biological treatment to limit or, hopefully, stop the damage. Their second meeting included practical training and a site location for the garden. In October, 18 beds were established with onions, green pepper, lettuce, tomato, cabbage and eggplant.



Last year, 35 women gardeners from Tagantassou cultivated 1945 m2 of land to harvest 1034Kg of crops which supported over 1,000 Nigerians in the surrounding communities. In both Tagantassou and Nassilé, the knowledge they have gained through practical training has resulted in food security and built livelihoods. For example, in Nassilé total earned income was 198,352 FCFA (~US$345), which is significant as Nigeria’s GDP per capita is approximately US$378.

Due to the women gardeners satisfaction with last year’s production and their enthusiasm for this year’s crop yield, they are looking forward to the next phase of expansion. Two new wells will be dug in spring, one in each community, to increase access to water and enable a significant garden expansion. The expansion of this program will allow more community members to participate and for more of their, and their neighbors’, food security needs to be met.