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Niger: feed the cattle or the children?

By now, I’ve developed a method of hammering my keyboard, typing one letter at a time, in the backseat of a Land Cruiser, on a bumpy road in rural Zinder, south Niger.

We’re heading to the village of Dan Badada, to see how Save the Children’s cash transfers are benefitting villagers.

Meeting Yaha

The one thing that puts things into perspective for me is talking to Yaha, a mother of nine, in the village of Dan Badada. She actually used to have ten children, but not anymore.

For the past three months she’s been getting cash transfers from Save the Children, approximately £35 or $40 a month, to buy staple food.

“If I wasn’t getting that assistance, I would have to choose between feeding the cattle and feeding my children.” That’s how simple it is.

Bridging the gap

We’re sitting in the family’s courtyard, in the shade of the trees. Yaha’s daughter is fast asleep in her mother’s lap.

Across the yard, is a small, traditional hut that eight people call a home.

One of Yaha’s children, a 12-year-old, is in Nigeria, trying to make a living.

In a normal year, the men go to Nigeria for some months, to be able to provide for their families but due to increased insecurity, that is not an option anymore.

Save the Children’s cash transfers are a short term solution to bridge a gap. Come September, the lean season will have ended, and villagers can celebrate the first harvest.

Why cash transfers?

Once Save the Children has identified beneficiaries, they receive a reasonable amount, once a month. Many of the families are female-headed households, households like Yaha’s.

With this money Yaha also gets information on improved hygiene practices, child protection and nutrition.

“And where there is no food in the markets, we will be handing out food,” Cyrille, Niger’s Country Director explains in the car.

The cash transfers positively affect children’s intake of food, as well as stimulating local markets. They also make it possible for people to stay in their home region, without having to relocate.

But the need for assistance is dire and increasing.

“The price of millet had risen so much that I couldn’t afford it anymore”, Yaha explains.

Out of 119 households in Dan Badada, Save the Children is supporting 75.

You can help us reach more – donate to our West Africa Appeal now

Written by Hedinn Halldorsson, Emergency Communication Manager

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