Niger: North Tillabéri in the grip of violence and drought
16-09-2011 News Footage Ref. V-F-CR F01099-A
The ICRC recently provided over 27,000 farmers and herdsmen with three-month food rations and special seed to generate rapid harvests. Communities living in the Tillabéri region, to the north of the capital Niamey, are among the most vulnerable in Niger.
• Footage available from the ICRC Video Newsroom on 19 September 2011
For more information, please contact Didier Revol, ICRC Geneva Phone: + 41 79 217 32 82, email
The ICRC recently provided over 27,000 farmers and herdsmen with three-month food rations and special seed to generate rapid harvests. Communities living in the Tillabéri region, to the north of the capital Niamey, are among the most vulnerable in Niger. Farmers and herdsmen are facing recurrent food insecurity in a context of persistent drought. In recent years, livestock has been decimated and harvests have been insufficient to feed the population.
The violence that has been rampant since intercommunal clashes began in 2008 is being exacerbated by the proliferation of weapons in the region. Throughout this period, a climate of fear has hindered trade and farming. Farmers have sometimes been forced to abandon the fields furthest from the villages while rural markets — places for economic and social exchanges between farmers and herdsmen — have been deserted. Herdsmen fleeing the clashes have had to leave behind their livestock and thus their only means of subsistence.
In 2010, the ICRC decided to considerably increase the aid begun in 2008 for farmers and herdsmen affected by the combination of violence and poor harvests. Since the programme began, almost 200,000 people in this part of Niger have received food aid, seed or other essential supplies from the ICRC.
Although violence between farmers and herdsmen has died down, clashes in the same area between herdsmen from Niger and Mali have caused 50 deaths in recent months. Livestock theft and disputes over access to water and land are the main causes of these confrontations. Recently, the governments of Niger and Mali have engaged in peace-making efforts in an attempt to reconcile the two communities. For the local people, this period of respite may be short-lived if the harvests planned for the coming weeks are insufficient to feed the population. Extremes of weather have already disrupted the farming season. Rodents, locusts and caterpillars also threaten future harvests.
In Tizegorou, a farming village 200 kilometres from the capital city Niamey, Hamani Almoundou is no longer able to feed his family. Repeated droughts as well as soil degradation have made farming difficult. And intercommunal fighting has only made the situation worse. Hamani, 45 and of Zarma origin, speaks of people dying, the hostilities making it impossible to till land far from the village, the slowdown in trading and the scarcity of goods at the markets.
Hamani is one of many to benefit from ICRC assistance. As soon as he receives his ration of seed, he rushes to the fields to sow it. There is no shortage of farmland, but the earth yields little. If rainfall is sufficient, the seed should produce a harvest in two months.
In Arné, nomadic Peul families occupy a dozen straw huts – a total of 160 people, according to the chief of this stockbreeding community. During filming, the women and children are kept hidden from view. The chief explains that the men have taken the herds out to graze, often far from the village. Repeated droughts have diminished livestock populations over the years. To make ends meet, some herders have therefore decided to farm as well as tend their animals, though the unpredictability of the rainy seasons means their efforts are often in vain.
Chief Boubacar Tiousso speaks of the community's fear during the fighting, how they had to flee for their lives, and the loss of livestock. He also talks of the droughts and how they have decimated herds, bringing his community to the brink of famine. He recalls the recent attacks on herdsmen and the fear that past tensions will resurface.
Tizegorou village, North Tillaberi, Niger
00 00 ICRC vehicle arriving in Tizegorou
00 05 Panoramic shot of village
00 12 Hamani Almoundou, farmer from Tizegorou, sowing seed in his field with the help of his family (3 shots)
00 32 Interview with Hamani Almoundou, farmer, Tizegorou village (Zarma – 23”)
They were buried just back there.
We endured both violence and lack of food.
We were in a complete panic, with no solution in sight.
Now things are getting back to normal”
00 55 Wide-angle shot of village
00 58 Women around the well (2 shots)
01 04 Woman walking away from the well carrying buckets of water
01 09 Street scene in Tizegorou village (medium close-up)
01 14 Hamani going to the distribution site (4 shots)
01 34 Wide-angle shot of distributions
01 38 Niger Red Cross volunteer explaining to the villagers what they will receive
01 42 Close-ups of beneficiaries (3 shots)
01 48 Interview with Mamadou Ali Maazou (Zarma – 36”), Niger Red Cross volunteer
"Each registered person will receive 130 kg of millet to feed his family during the lean period.
In addition to this ration, there are improved seeds.
Those seeds are of good quality because they grow fast.
They are designed to perform in areas with poor rainfall.
They give quick results.
In less than two months, you will get a good harvest."
02 24 Men taking bags of grain from the shop
02 30 Hamani Almoundou making a fingerprint on the distributions register
02 36 Hamani loading his rations onto a cart and returning home (3 shots)
02 57 Different shots of the distribution site (3 shots)
03 15 Hamani leaving his house with his wife and daughter (medium close-up)
03 23 Hamani and his family walking, then arriving at his field
03 26 Hamani digging
03 29 Millet seed in a bowl
03 31 Hamani's daughter sowing seed
03 44 Interview with Hamani Almoundou, farmer, Tizegorou village (Zarma – 40”)
"All you can see around is my field.
It goes as far as one can see.
It is big enough but soil is not fertile.
Rain is too scarce and the rainy season too short to make any profit of it.
The seeds we just got from ICRC are really of good quality.
They grow rapidly, so we'll obtain a better yield.
The way I've sown, with a bit of rain, I could produce enough food
in two months to feed my family."
04 24 Wide-angle shot of a herd of cattle and donkeys on arid pasture (2 shots)
04 40 Interview with Boubacar Tiousso, chief of stockbreeding community in Arné village (Haoussa – 38”)
"Up North in the bush, we heard about the fighting.
But it hasn’t come here yet.
Two years ago, when the violence broke out, people fled and everyone was scared,
We ran all night and all day.
We lost part of our livestock.
Some people have left the area and not yet returned."
05 18 Wide-angle shot of livestock (cows and donkeys)
05 21 Woman in traditional dress fixing a bag onto the back of a donkey
05 24 Livestock around a well
05 26 Medium close-ups of livestock (3 shots)
05 35 Man milking a cow
05 39 Herder with livestock
05 42 Two men drawing water and taking it to the cows
05 53 Cows drinking water
05 57 Interview with Boubacar Tiousso, chief of stockbreeding community in Arné village (Haoussa – 30”)
"When the rain came, we were too scared to plant anything.
There was nothing we could do nothing.
And when the dry season started, we had nothing to eat! We had to sell
our livestock to feed our families."
06 27 Women waiting for seed distributions to begin
06 30 Men signing the distributions register (3 shots)
06 43 Niger Red Cross volunteer (close-up)
06 45 Beneficiaries receiving bags of seed
06 48 Beneficiaries leaving the warehouse (2 shots)
06 56 Huts in the middle of the pasture (2 shots)
07 03 Women piling up millet in front of the huts (2 shots)
07 07 Man preparing tea (2 shots)
07 15 Young girl in traditional dress inside a hut
07 18 Herder with goats and cows, huts in background
07 27 END
For further information, please contact:
Oumarou Daddy Rabiou, ICRC Niamey, tel. +227 96 66 99 12
Steven Anderson, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 20 11 / +41 79 536 92 50