Two wells have been constructed with the help of Caritas Switzerland in this village in Chad providing water to grow food as drought ravages West Africa’s Sahel region. Photo by Fred Lauener/Caritas Switzerland.
The village of Chawir is located in Canton Migami, south-central Chad (West Africa). Like almost everywhere in the area, the locals are almost exclusively women and children. Of the 2,760 inhabitants of Chawir, only 120 are adult men.
Many women are widowed or divorced. This is because their husbands did not return from the civil war in Libya, where they had migrated to find work.
Other men are expected home in early summer to join the harvest work on the cereal fields. They had left Chawir temporarily to find work in bigger towns in Chad. Some travelled to find work in Libya, which can be a dangerous place for Chadian men. Nonetheless, thousands of poor Chadian farmers take this risk; simply because they cannot afford to feed their families.
In Chawir, there is a health clinic with no doctor, but there is a school and two large communal gardens. Around 200 women, mostly with children and grandchildren, work here every day planting and harvesting herbs, leafy vegetables, carrots and onions.
Thanks to a water source only six metres underground, the garden is growing well. Two wells have been constructed with the help of Caritas Switzerland, partner organisation Acord, and a few men who remained in the village. Continue reading
A woman waters plants in a CRS dry season market garden in Jougola, Dogondoutchi district, in the Dosso region of Niger. Photo by Tahirou Gouro/CRS
By Helen Blakesley
“It takes a trained eye to see when someone is poorer than poor in Niger. People are living in a harsh environment, it’s a semi-desert, many households can seem badly off at the best of times. But this year, I noticed a change,” said Jean-Marie Adrian, Catholic Relief Services regional director for West Africa (CRS is a Caritas member working in Niger with partners such as Caritas Niger/CADEV).
“A very simple thing struck me. Usually, during the dry season, people weave straw together to make new granaries or they repair the holes in their old ones. But as I drove past villages this time, I saw very few of these new circular constructions. Many had collapsed, with no effort to repair them … because there had been no harvest that needed storing”. Continue reading
Malian women who have come to Niger as refugees, attend a meeting in Tiguizefane, Abala district, Niger. Photo by Jean-Philippe Debus /CRS
By Helen Blakesley and Caritas Internationalis staff
American Caritas member Catholic Relief Services, Caritas Niger (SECADEV) and its partners are mobilising emergency water, hygiene and sanitation facilities to meet the urgent needs of thousands of Malian refugees in neighbouring Niger.
Fighting in northern Mali between the army and a rebel group has forced more than 100,000 people to flee their homes. Nearly half have stayed in Mali, and the others have crossed borders seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.
According to the United Nations, around 25,000 people have crossed into Niger since the end of January—two-thirds of them Malian refugees and a third, Nigeriens. An estimated 500 people are arriving every day.
Most of the refugees are living in open-air shelters made of blankets stretched over sticks. They face extreme temperatures—the heat of the day and then cold at night—in the Sahelien desert zone.
Many came on foot, leaving behind most of their belongings. Some refugees say that they lost contact with their older children as they fled. They don’t know where they are and have no way of contacting them. Continue reading