June 28, 2019 — Alassane Lawaly is a Nutrition Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for the IRC in southeast Niger.
My country is facing many difficult and complex challenges. Niger is a small landlocked country, sat in the middle of a number of volatile crises. In the southern and eastern regions of the country, refugees are fleeing violence in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Nigeria. Meanwhile, Niger is also a hub for people on the move towards North Africa and Europe.
The numbers of people who have been displaced are huge: in the Tillaberi region alone, where I work, we are dealing with about 50,000 people who have had to flee their homes. In addition to displacement, my country has also been struggling with frequent droughts and poverty. Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world.
Many people, both refugees and local people, are unable to feed themselves. Tillabéri has been identified as one of the regions where the needs of people are most severe, including one of the highest level of malnutrition in the country. It has been estimated by our team that around 137,000 people are in need of nutritional assistance.
The human impact of food insecurity is tragic to witness. Farmers are unable to the grow crops. People are unable to feed themselves.
I am currently working on a project, funded by the European Union, which aims to reduce the number of children who die from malnutrition. The project covers five different districts: that is 70 health centres overall.
I am proud to play a role helping to fight malnutrition in my country. This project has really changed people’s lives for the better. For example, because of the financial support we have provided to families and the work that we do in local communities, mothers are now able to take their children to the health centres. Young lives are being saved, as children are now receiving the care they need, instead of staying home where they were deprived of lifesaving treatment.
I have also witnessed training sessions for young mothers, where we teach them how they can detect symptoms of malnutrition and best-practices for breastfeeding their babies and young children. I remember how enthusiastic mothers were to receive this training. They would start each session with a song they invented!
Although the scale of people’s needs is huge, it is these small moments that give me the drive to continue my work with the IRC.
The International Rescue Committee is working to reduce the number of children who die from malnutrition through support from the European Union.
The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.