Ladies constructing a sustainable future: combating again the desert, amid Niger’s refugee and local weather crises


Within the dusty plains outdoors Ouallam, a city some 100 kilometres north of Niger’s capital Niamey, verdant rows of greens sprout from the soil in neat plots. Including additional distinction to the parched environment, ladies in vivid shawls stroll among the many rows, checking irrigation pipes and including a splash of water to any thirsty-looking specimens.

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© UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

A Malian refugee in Ouallam, Niger.

‘We’re very comfortable to work collectively’

The 450 or so ladies who work this land are drawn from three distinct communities: some are locals, others had been displaced by battle and insecurity elsewhere in Niger, and the remaining are refugees from neighbouring Mali.

“We did this all along with the totally different communities: the refugees, the displaced, and the local people of Ouallam. We’re very comfortable to work collectively,” says 35-year-old Rabi Saley, who settled within the space after fleeing armed assaults in her hometown Menaka, 100 kilometres additional north throughout the border in Mali.

The produce she grows – together with potatoes, onions, cabbages, bell peppers and watermelons – helps to feed her seven kids and supply an earnings by promoting the excess at a neighborhood market. Since its creation, the market backyard venture has additionally helped clean the arrival of 1000’s of refugees and internally displaced folks to the city.

“Once we discovered that they had been going to settle right here, we had been afraid and sad,” recollects Katima Adamou, a 48-year-old girl from Ouallam who has her personal plot close by. “We thought that they had been going to make our life inconceivable, however as an alternative it’s been the alternative.”

© UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

A Malian refugee tends greens on the market backyard in Ouallam, Niger.

Adapting to the altering local weather

Political unrest and frequent assaults by armed teams in Mali and Nigeria have pushed 250,000 refugees, most from Mali and Nigeria, to hunt security in Niger, while violence throughout the nation’s personal borders has compelled an additional 264,000 internally displaced folks from their properties.

In the meantime, local weather change is pushing up temperatures within the Sahel at 1.5 instances the worldwide common, and the 4.4 million folks forcibly displaced throughout the area are among the many most uncovered to the devastating impacts of drought, flooding and dwindling assets.

In Ouallam’s market backyard – an initiative launched in April 2020 by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Company – the ladies have discovered to nourish their vegetation utilizing drip irrigation to attenuate evaporation and protect scarce water assets.

An added advantage of the venture is its position in serving to Nigeriens adapt to the altering local weather. By cultivating a big swathe of previously degraded land close to the city and planting timber, they’re serving to to stave off the desertification that threatens giant elements of the nation.

© UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

A lady stacks new bricks in Ouallam brickyard, in camp for displaced peoplle and refugees in Niger.

Constructing blocks of sustainable growth

In one other a part of Ouallam, an additional increase to group integration and environmental safety comes from a much less possible supply. The city brickyard employs 200 women and men – refugees, internally displaced and locals – within the manufacture of stabilized soil bricks.

Made by combining soil with small quantities of sand, cement and water earlier than compacting and drying within the solar, the interlocking bricks cut back the necessity for cement mortar throughout development. Crucially, additionally they get rid of the necessity to burn giant quantities of scarce wooden or different gas used within the firing of conventional clay bricks.

“After, these bricks are used to construct homes for the folks supported by UNHCR – the refugees, the internally displaced, in addition to part of the susceptible host group,” defined Elvis Benge, a UNHCR shelter officer in Niger.

“Finally, the refugees and the populations who host them are the engines of change and may assist themselves and make sure the resilience of their communities,” Benge added.

Again out there backyard, having labored along with her new neighbours to satisfy the problem of day by day survival in addition to era-defining crises past their management, Ms. Saley stands surrounded by the fruits of her labour and displays on a job properly executed.

“We now have turn out to be one group – I even acquired married right here!” she says. “The girl blossoms, similar to the vegetation!”

This story is a part of multimedia UN Information sequence that includes women leading initiatives for a extra sustainable, equitable future, printed forward of this yr’s International Women’s Day on 08 March.


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