Deep in rural Niger, communities struggle to grow food in the hot and arid landscape.
GOAL, in partnership with UNITLFE, is working to help these communities create sustainable agriculture that can withstand temperatures that regularly reach above 40 degrees Celsius.
The GOAL team in the field includes humanitarians with the expertise to help.
One is Nahoum Issihaka. The 31-year- old has a diploma in Rural Development and another in Economics and Environmental Management. With years of experience in the field, Nahoum works tirelessly to ensure his fellow countrymen and women have enough food for the future.
Nahoum only joined the GOAL team in November 2020, but he has followed the teams work in Zinder province closely ever since they began operations there in 2005.
“It has been my dream to work for an organization like GOAL. I have seen the work they do in my country and I wanted to learn and use my skills to help eradicate poverty.”
Nahoum works with the UNITLIFE project, and a programme funded by Irish Aid on resilience.
Nahoum says: “I work closely with communities to help them build resilient agriculture. One way is teaching them to use Zai holes to improve crop harvest. We a help empower women through women’s loans associations and other methods. It is very rewarding work.”
“It is a challenge to work across both projects as I need to be on top of many things like health and nutrition. It is busy but it is very rewarding.”
One of Nahoum’s areas of expertise is rural development. He is currently working to help communities adapt to the shocks of climate change.
Niger is one of the driest countries on earth and huge swathes of the country are desert and uninhabitable. With a population of 22 million, many people live in rural areas that are becoming increasingly dry and with the effects of desertification, threatening livelihoods, and food security.
“Climate change is one of the biggest threats that the communities I work with face. We work with them to come up with innovative and resilient ways of combatting climate change.”
One of these methods are Zai Holes. This is a traditional system where holes are dug manually to trap and concentrate water in one area. This helps with composting and allows trees and plants to grow in previously dry and cracked soil.
In Zinder, with the support of UNITLIFE, Nahoum and his team are helping communities create these holes as well as other methods like community gardens.
The main aim to ensure communities can produce their own food and to ensure women become empowered and independent in producing food for them and their families.
Before joining GOAL, Nahoum spent six years working in the NGO sector. He is a humanitarian at heart, but in his spare time he has other interests.
“I am passionate about exotic animals and have been since a child. At home I have a small farm where I collect a number of animals including ostriches, pigeons, peacocks, parrots. I breed the animals and love to care for them in my spare time.”
Like many of us, Nahoum is looking forward to the end of the pandemic and getting into the heart of communities to enable them to live better lives.