Lutheran World Relief Receives Grant From Gates Foundation to Address Niger Food Crisis

Lutheran World Relief has announced a grant of nearly $950,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help address the growing food crisis in Niger.

Building on its successful response to a similar crisis in Niger in 2005, LWR will work with more than forty thousand individuals in the rural municipality of Kalfou to meet their immediate food needs and reduce their vulnerability to future crises. A cash-for-work program for twenty-seven thousand people will put much-needed money in the hands of rural families, providing cash in exchange for labor to rehabilitate dams and wells and build structures for soil and water conservation. The money that families earn will enable them to buy enough food to get them through the "hungry season," while the work they do on water systems and soil conservation will help improve agricultural yields and make them less vulnerable to future droughts. In addition, LWR will help restock depleted herds of goats and sheep.

Earlier this year, the government of Niger, one of the world's poorest nations, confirmed that nearly half the population is food insecure. Drought has severely affected crop production, while increased prices have made the food that is available in markets out of reach for Niger's poorest families. Most rural communities have already depleted whatever food they had in reserve and will not harvest again until October. At the same time, many families that raise small livestock have sold their animals so they can buy grain, leaving them without a source of milk or meat in their diets or a future source of income.

"We are thrilled to continue and expand our relationship with the Gates Foundation to fund this initiative to address the immediate food security needs and long-term recovery for the families affected by this crisis in Niger," said Tim McCully, LWR vice president for international programs. "In everything we do at LWR, we are working to build resilient communities. This means not just providing emergency aid, but working side by side with communities to put them on a track for a better future."

"Lutheran World Relief Responds to Growing Food Crisis in Niger." Lutheran World Relief Press Release 06/22/2010.