Kablewa – "Despite my small condiment business, I could not meet my basic food needs or participate in social activities," recalls Yakaki Kaneyi, a local youth from Kablewa, of a time when he struggled to make ends meet.
The past few years have brought new challenges to the commune of Kablewa in the Diffa region.
Niger's southeastern region of Diffa shares borders with Nigeria and Chad. The area has been prone to attacks by non-state armed groups in recent years. Consequently, local communities fleeing violence and their host counterparts often face increasing difficulties accessing resources.
Since 2021, the Niger Community Cohesion Initiative (NCCI) has been implementing activities in the commune of Kablewa to improve the resilience of communities and authorities to conflict, insecurity, and violent extremism.
With support from the NCCI, Kablewa authorities are providing host and displaced communities with livelihood opportunities through agricultural activities and supporting local herders by reclaiming land for pasture.
Together with community leaders, local authorities identified 150 people from the host and displaced communities to participate in the digging for half-moons in exchange for payment. The practice of digging half-moons allows for restoring degraded land by increasing water infiltration, rehabilitating degraded lands, stabilizing soils, and reducing water erosion.
For twenty-one days, 75 young men and 75 young women from six villages in the commune of Kablewa dug 9,410 half-moons.
The thousands of half-moons the youth have dug allowed them to rehabilitate three hundred thousand square metres of degraded land. This comes as a huge sigh of relief to local authorities and host communities already facing limited resources and means to meet the needs of displaced populations.
"I received 63,000 CFA francs (103 dollars) in return for my participation in the digging of half-moons," says Yakaki. "I invested this sum in my business, which generated profits that I invested in purchasing sheep," he adds.
When asked how they would use their income, the majority (80 per cent) said they would invest it in buying and trading livestock.
In addition to improving the living conditions of vulnerable youth, digging half-moons has strengthened social cohesion among the youth of the commune of Kablewa.
"The activity has allowed young people from communities that did not previously socialize to connect," said Mamadou Chiwa, a young man from the commune of Kablewa. "It showed us that we can live together, without prejudice and even undertake activities of common interest with the participation of all young people, regardless of their group affiliation," he adds.
The cash-for-work allowed youth to improve their economic perceptions and learn how to optimize their income. Following this activity, the youth were sensitized on conflict prevention and trained in income management to allow them to better invest the money they earn.
At the end of the activity, the agricultural equipment used for the cash-for-work activity was distributed to the mayor of the commune of Kablewa to increase local capacity to carry out similar activities.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) implements the NCCI in Kablewa through funding from the European Commission's Service for Foreign Policy Instruments (FPI). The initiative seeks to increase the cohesion and resilience of at-risk communities, particularly in villages and communes, and strengthen their trust in local authorities.
For more information, please contact Aïssatou SY, Public Information Officer, Tel: +227 80 06 65 31, firstname.lastname@example.org.