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LWR Launches $13 Million Effort to Aid Poor Farmers in Niger, Part of a $41 Million, 5-Year Initiative in West Africa’s Sahel Region

BALTIMORE—Lutheran World Relief, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, is launching a $13 million initiative in southern Niger to reduce poverty by increasing farmer incomes. The initiative aims to benefit more than 100,000 people, at least half of them women and girls.

This innovative project, known as the 12/12 Alliance for its goal of providing year-round food security, is one of several LWR initiatives in the Sahel region of West Africa with a total program value of $41 million over the next five years that will help move poor rural farm families from relief to resilience. In addition to USAID and its foundation partner, LWR is also working with private sector entities in the 12/12 Alliance, and in the wider Sahel region with donors that include the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the European Union.

“We’re looking to make a significant impact in breaking the cycle of poverty for tens of thousands of poor farming families in the Sahel,” said Ambassador Daniel Speckhard (rt.), LWR’s president & CEO. “Through these projects, we are working with farmers and cooperatives to create sustainable solutions that will enable the farmers to provide year-round support to their families.”

The 12/12 Alliance seeks to build 12-month food security in an underserved region of Niger. It will leverage private sector investments to apply complementary solutions to increase farmer incomes through improved agricultural production and marketing, with a focus on onions, small animals, cowpeas and wheat. The project will train trusted farmers in the Tahoua and Maradi regions to be local, village-based extension agents. Using innovative mobile technology to access critical market information and early warning of impending crises, and with support from farmer cooperatives, these agents will help their neighboring farmers to increase the quality and yield of their crops, improve their resilience to recurring drought, access sources of credit and sell their produce in bigger and more profitable markets. The project will also support and strengthen local farmer cooperatives so they will be able to offer better services to their members.

The 12/12 Alliance is supported by a diverse group of public and private-sector partners, including the U.S. Agency for International Development, which administers the U.S. foreign assistance program providing economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 80 countries worldwide; the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies; mobile telecommunications provider Bharti Airtel Limited; African financial services provider Ecobank; SH Biaugeaud, a fruit and vegetable processing firm; and four local farming cooperatives.

LWR’s wider Sahel programming efforts include a $24 million project with funding from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service’s Food for Progress program to market sesame in Burkina Faso; a $2 million program to support long-term recovery and resilience for drought-affected farming families in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso through improved land management and crop and animal production; and a $1.8 million initiative to help farmers in Niger cope with climate change.

The countries of the Sahel, which struggle with recurrent food and nutrition crises, are among the poorest and least developed in the world. LWR’s projects are located in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, which are among the bottom 10 nations in the U.N. Human Development Index.

LWR has been working in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso since the 1970’s, supporting local farmers and farmers’ cooperatives in building more resilient agriculture production systems that can help them adapt to the challenges that threaten their livelihoods and well-being, and transition from survival to stability.

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About Lutheran World Relief

With nearly 75 years of demonstrated expertise helping to transform some of the hardest-to-reach places in the developing world, Lutheran World Relief is an innovative, trusted international humanitarian organization committed to those otherwise cut off from basic human services and opportunities. LWR works in partnership with local communities to build their capabilities and collaborate on long-term solutions to reduce extreme poverty. In times of emergency, LWR is also a trusted partner to distribute aid and ensure people are prepared to withstand the next unexpected challenge. Powered by the compassion of U.S. Lutheran individuals and congregations, LWR reached more than 3.4 million people in 32 countries in fiscal year 2016. For more information, visit lwr.org.