In its 26 years of work, ADRA Niger has developed a uniquely comprehensive approach to food security that goes beyond food supply and takes aim at the limiting factors of the current food production system.
Our programs center on food availability (production of food in the right quantities); accessibility (being able to purchase food where and when needed, including marketing linkages); utilization (addressing health, nutrition, water and sanitation issues to ensure maximum derivation of benefit from the food consumed); and sustainability (low input and high community involvement.)
Implementing food security programs in Niger necessitates a thorough understanding of the issues and needs of communities. ADRA Niger focuses on a community-based, community–driven approach and develops strong relationships with partnering communities. A key component of ADRA Niger’s identity and programming is the belief that communities must take an active part in program planning to enhance their own food security. Furthermore, the changes in farming practices that are promoted must happen at the community level, spreading from farmer to farmer, and from community to community. Over the years, ADRA Niger has learned several key points that inform program design and implementation, including:
- Rain-fed cereal-based agriculture does not hold promise to feed the current, or future, population of Niger
- Environmental changes are becoming more challenging and unpredictable
- Food production must be increased beyond traditional cereal crops and outside of the brief rainy season
- Water, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition education must advance concurrently with food security
Approach to Food Security
In light of the Nigerien context and other lessons learned, ADRA Niger has developed an innovative, comprehensive approach to food security. A core element of ADRA Niger’s approach is that it is community-based and low-input. Additionally, this approach focuses on changes in attitudes and practices as a simple, yet effective, way to address issues of food insecurity. This approach also boasts a strong environmental focus and incorporates principles that have a long history of success in the country. This farmer-led movement has successfully addressed desertification and increased crop production, food security, and self-reliance.