Nigerien garden clubs: growing miraculous life-changing trees.
When you think about a garden club, many would immediately picture a group of people tending beautiful plants or flowers in their garden; something that would attract the bees and encourage the neighbours to make a friendly comment.
The scene couldn’t be more different for a group of women living in Niger, Africa, who after years of recurring droughts and watching their children suffer from malnutrition, have fought back with the return of the traditional Moringa trees.
The revival of the plant has been called the country’s ‘front-line weapon’, as it can produce crop throughout the year despite the harsh Nigerien environment.
Ramata Hama, daughter of the woman who suggested the gardening group, told reporters: “People were suffering because of the lack of food. Women are being forced to find work in Niamey [the capital]. They have to take their children with them, meaning they don’t go to school”.
The knowledge of this miracle tree had sadly become lost over the years, instead of harvesting it as a crop it was used to build fences. Its Hausa name literally means ‘fence tree’.
Its leaves are actually very nutritious, rich in Vitamins A and B, and could mean the difference between life and death for millions. For the children, it also means a chance to go to school.
It took some time for World Vision to persuade the people that the leaves were edible, but they have now helped train over 200 women to make use of its produce and cook nutritious meals with a mixture of its leaves and other local foods, such as chili, onion, and couscous.
This progress is a glimmer of hope for the 6 million Nigeriens, who according to Niger’s Early Warning System, still need immediate assistance.