Launched nearly a decade ago, the World Food Programme’s integrated resilience programme has been benefiting thousands of farmers across the Sahel region in Africa. The countries of Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Mauritania are home to high temperatures and scarce food sources, but these burdens don’t stop the extraordinary efforts from a remote village in Satara, Niger. Single mother, Foureyratou Saidou tends to the community’s garden that neighbors her village. She is one of the thousands of farmers that have been benefiting from this food programme. 

“In this garden, we now grow and harvest onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and other vegetables that we eat and that we can sell in the local market. Before, we didn’t have much to live for. Now we do, and we don’t want to leave,” stated Saidou. “I am working for the good health of my children and to give them the chance to study and stay in our village. I want the garden to grow bigger, so that we have more to sell and more income to invest in the family and in the community.”

The WFP initiative encompasses everything food related, touching every connected branch such as land rehabilitation, livelihood diversification, school meals, nutrition interventions, and improved agricultural production and market access. As of today, these efforts are assisting more than 3 million people across the Sahel region, allowing these communities to better prepare for anthropological shocks, such as climate change, drought, land degradation, increase in prices, and human conflict. Observed annually on June 17th, World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, is celebrated by millions of women farmers across the globe bringing hope to food insecure areas. Saidou is one of the brilliant and inspirational women celebrating that day and continuing their efforts to better support their families and village. 

About 80% of the severely affected regions benefitting from the WSP did not need extensive humanitarian assistance or support in 2022. That means around 500,000 people did not need emergency aid, and translating to about $30 million saved. The initiative also focuses on promoting women participation and empowerment, with a high focal point on severely insecure areas that typically face conflict or house displaced groups. The programme brings women access to farming education, showing them innovative ways to capture rainwater, improve plant growth, and preserve crops during times of high drought. Since the launch in 2014, more than 233,000 hectares have been rehabilitated.

These current efforts could not have come at a more crucial time, according to expert findings, the food insecurity in Sahel is going to reach a ten-year-high by June, setting up the path for 3.3 million to be highly affected by hunger during the June to August season. Fortunately, current findings in Niger have shown that the WFP has restored natural resources, increased farm revenues, reduced migration and conflict, and improved education and nutrition. It all starts with land, one affected region at a time, eventually causing a ripple effect across all regions. The community gardening initiative has transformed one barren land at a time, bringing success to food production.