An American charity organization has started development projects in Niger to help people cope with nutrition and health issues. The New York based Mercury Foundation has donated over one million dollars to various projects in Niger to assist in fighting poverty, improve nutrition and ensure food security. The Foundation also deals with children and women’s issues internationally.
From the Niger capital Niamey, Mrs. Amy Robins the executive director of Mercury foundation told VOA’s Douglas Mpuga that the project has started with projects in three model villages in Niger. She said the foundation developed and funded a three year integrated project in Niger and she was in Niger to check on the progress. “Right now we are working in three villages, we are providing water, building schools, and promoting girls’ education, we are providing supplies and training for health centers, and we are providing community education in health, water and sanitation” said Mrs. Robins. The project has built boreholes and provides water pumps, it has also provided women with goats and taught them the use of cereal banks.
Mrs. Robins said her interest has always been in nutrition and water and she was touched when she visited Niger a year ago by the nutrition crisis and the commitment of the people to better their lives in such difficult times.
She hailed the women of Niger for taking a stronger role in the food distribution and cereal management. “….the situation is challenging, but conditions are improving and the nutrition is better now”, she noted.
“The project is not about bringing money and walking away, it is about partnering with the community and the leaders in order to raise awareness, make changes in lifestyles and manner of living”, she added.
The project has helped set up water management committees, and is working closely with the ministries of education and health. She said, “it is these ministries and the community that will eventually sustain these programs”.
Mrs. Robins said the project would eventually expand to other communities in Niger as the communities develop skills in management and use the current program as a model.