Niger (29th) rose 75 places in the index, the biggest leap by any country in the world this year. The economic environment for Niger’s media is very precarious but they are free and benefit from favourable legislation. Media freedom violations have virtually disappeared. The improvement has been seen in both concrete and symbolic measures. At the end of 2011, Mahamadou Issoufou, who was elected president in the spring, became the first African head of state to sign the Declaration of Table Mountain, thereby undertaking to promote media freedom.
With causes ranging from policy failures to marginal help from development agencies, The Economist argues in a July 7, 2012 article that even inadequate irrigation in the region can be overcome through long-term planning:
A recent story from the Washington Post highlights how the current food crisis leads to more child marriages in Niger, where the rate of child marriage is already the highest in the world.
From the author, Sudarsan Raghavan:
Niger has the world’s highest rate of child marriage, with roughly one out of two girls marrying before age 15, some as young as 7. As a hunger crisis affects millions here and across the Sahel region of West Africa, aid workers are concerned that struggling parents might marry off their daughters even earlier for the dowries they fetch, including animals and cash, to help the families survive.
Full URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/in-niger-hunger-crisis-raises-fears-of-more-child-marriages/2012/07/09/gJQA8xD9YW_story.html
We are all concerned about the growing food crisis in Niger, and MercyCorps is ramping up their efforts not only to raise awareness of this dire situation, but to provide direct assistance that is greatly needed in the Sahel.
Some featured articles include:
Cassandra Nelson’s latest blog entry describes the impact the hunger crisis is having on children.
Does your organization have an idea for a great project in Niger and need funding to get it off the ground?
FON has developed a new, simplified form that non-profit organizations and grassroots groups can use to apply for funding from Friends of Niger. To access the form and view instructions, please visit our Projects page, on our web site at http://www.friendsofniger.org/projects.
On April 5th, 300 people, along with the Ambassadors of Niger and Gabon, danced, clapped and cheered for Tuareg sensation Bombino at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH to support RAIN’s programs in Niger.
Bombino at The Music Hall in Portsmouth, NH
At the reception before the performance, Portsmouth Mayor Eric Spears was on hand to deliver to Bombino and the Ambassadors a special welcome and to proclaim April 5, 2012 as West Africa Day in Portsmouth, expressing pride in the city’s role in bringing new life to RAIN’s partner nomadic communities.
Representing Friends of Niger were John Hutchison and Larry Koff. RAIN and FON have worked together to petition for Peace Corps reinstatement in Niger as well as support for NGOs in the region in Washington D.C.
During the concert, Bombino sang songs about unity and reconciliation, of the beauty of the desert and of nomadic life. He spoke to the audience about the importance of education in his homeland, sharing his plans for an upcoming Peace Tour to promote Niger as a model of peace for the West African region.
Bombino and Group with Ambassadors
The Ambassador of Niger, the Hon. Maman Sidikou, spoke of the resiliency and hope of his country. He expressed that despite recent unrest, Niger is a country of diverse people, unified in their identity as Nigeriens and in their shared goal of engagement with each other and their neighbors. He also expressed how inspired and moved he was by the huge show of support for his country demonstrated that evening by their New England friends.
New Friends, New Partners
The air of excitement and enthusiasm was palpable as the Portsmouth audience gave Bombino and his group multiple standing ovations. As for RAIN, we couldn’t have asked for a warmer reception and are excited to share their vision of a Niger where people with access to education, food and water have the freedom to choose to live in their tradition in safety and good health with a wider circle of supporters.
Although Peace Corps’ presence in Niger is on hold at the moment, 2011 still marks 50 years of promoting peace and friendship around the world by volunteers in dozens of countries.
The National Peace Corps Association is coordinating all kinds of events throughout 2011 to honor the past and inspire the next generation of volunteers. Come check out the calendar of events to find some near you.
In January of 2011 we informed you that Boston University had suspended its program in Niger. We just learned that Boston University has made the decision to definitively close its long-standing International Development Study Abroad program in Niger.
The previously announced Friends Of Niger strategy meeting will be held at the Niger Embassy in Washington, DC, on Friday, September 23, 2011. Currently there are about 15 people in all that will be attending the meeting, where we plan to meet with the Ambassador, Her Excellency Aminata Maiga Djibrilla Maiga Touré, and her staff.
The Embassy is about a 10 to 15 minute walk from the Dupont Circle Metro Stop on the Red Line. Exit at the north side and walk up to R Street, then walk west to the Embassy. We will be welcomed by the Ambassador, or her staff if she is not in town; there will be a presentation of FON activities and funded projects, and we will discuss what we can do to reinstate Peace Corps in Niger.
If you would still like to join us, please contact Penni St. Hilaire so that we can finalize our plans with the embassy staff.
Although Peace Corps’ presence in Niger is on hold at the moment, 2011 still marks 50 years of promoting peace and friendship by volunteers in dozens of countries, and 49 years in Niger.
Friends of Niger will hold an important meeting on Friday, September 23, 2011, in Washington DC, to discuss a strategy for lobbying for reinstatement, as well as continued support for local NGOs in Niger.
The time and location are not yet set; if you would like to attend please contact Penni St. Hilaire and she will send you an email as soon as the details are finalized.
The time and place will also be posted here when available, so please check back before September 23rd.
Following the meeting, all are invited to a social gathering at the Penni’s home in Northwest Washington. For additional information and if you would like to attend, please contact Penni.