Landlocked in the Sahel, Niger is particularly vulnerable to climate change and the risks that come with rising temperatures and unpredictable rainfall. More than 80% of Niger’s population is dependent on agriculture, and adverse weather has a knock-on effect on crop production and livelihoods, especially for small-scale farmers.
This also impacts food supply. According to the World Food Programme, 2 million people in Niger faced acute food insecurity in 2022. In addition, millions experience periodic food shortages during the lean season and 47 percent of children under five are chronically malnourished.
PRESENCES: Strengthening food security and resilience in climate vulnerable communities
PRESENCES was a £3.9 million project in Niger, implemented by CARE International UK as part of the UK government’s flagship climate programme BRACED.
PRESENCES supported over 220,000 people from climate-vulnerable communities to better respond and adapt to climate extremes and disasters. Activities included:
- Promoting more sustainable and climate-resilient livelihood options
- Working with local, national and regional government on natural resource management
- Improving climate information services so communities could better plan how to adapt to extreme weather events
Using savings to strengthen women’s financial resilience
As with all CARE projects, PRESENCES had a strong focus on women and girls. One of the main approaches used within PRESENCES was CARE’s Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) microfinancing model. VSLAs see members - predominantly women - pool money together, lend it within the group, and charge interest.
VSLAs help communities unable to access regular banking services sustain or expand their small businesses and cover additional expenses they may face. In the case of PRESENCES, VSLA members could invest in new farming methods to increase production. The savings also served as a safety net for farming-dependent families during poor harvests.
What impact did we see?
By the end of the project:
people better able to cope with climate shocks and extremes
people improved their livelihoods
increase in household savings
Impact: Food security
- Food security almost doubled in two years, from 2.4 months to 4.7 months.
- Households used 33% fewer negative coping strategies to alleviate poverty.
- Households used 80% fewer negative coping strategies to alleviate food shortages.
Negative coping strategies could include taking children out of school to work or consuming seed stock held for next season.
Impact: Governance systems
- 18 local government policies and strategies were developed, incorporating community priorities for climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.
Impact: Climate information
- 283 people were trained on early-warning systems.
- People were more likely to follow climate information, and more than 50% of respondents said the information they received was ‘very relevant’.
- Climate information was used in numerous ways, including adapting seeds to rainfall prediction - which supported the diversification of livelihood strategies - and adapting routes and timings for livestock grazing.
The climate information is not something just for engineers or experts… It is now understood in the fields, even the pastoralists want to know… they have their traditional knowledge, but they need the scientific information. They trust it and they know where to look for the information.’’
PRESENCES partner staff-member
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