The Tuareg are a nomadic people who follow the sparse rains of the Sahara Desert in the West African country of Niger. The tribe moves constantly in search of pasture for their goats and sheep. Known for their camel caravans, they have relied for centuries on trading their animals for salt and other commodities. Another nomadic people, the Wodaabe, live south of the Tuareg, herding cattle across the Sahel.

The history of these proud desert people reaches back a thousand years. Severe droughts and the desertification of farmland now threaten the culture and traditional homelands of the Toureg and Wodaabe people.  The tribes have been forced to travel farther and farther away from traditional grazing grounds to keep their herds alive.

After visiting Niger as a tourist in January, 2000, Bess Palmisciano, a lawyer by trade, founded the non-profit RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara to address the needs of these people. She is a very hands-on director of the organization and was recently honored as one of New Hampshire’s “Most Remarkable Women of the World 2011” for her work in Niger.

RAIN has developed programs to improve the lives of these nomads through agriculture, education, water security, and income producing activities. The programs teach skills and practices to enable beneficiaries to become more self-sufficient.  RAIN also places special emphasis on a program to mentor girls.

TPRF recently granted $30,000 to help RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara provide three nutritious meals a day for nomadic children and to purchase animal feed for re-sale at cost to tribe members.  This is the fourth grant TPRF has made to help the people of Niger with food, clean water, grain, and emergency aid.
*Photos courtesy of Ibrahim Boubacar and RAIN for the Saheel and Sahara

RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara Aid Programs

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