A Note from RAIN’s Executive Director re: Coronavirus in Niger & RAIN’s Work

Dear Friends and Supporters,

We hope you and your loved ones are healthy and that you are finding ways to cope with the Coronavirus crisis. We know it has been hard. Unfortunately, it is hard in developing countries like Niger as well.

Niger can feel very far away, especially when our home communities are suffering and our natural inclination is to focus inward. But as this pandemic reminds us, we live in an interconnected world.

When I last wrote, there were no Covid-19 cases in Niger. As with many countries, the situation has changed. As of today, April 7th, there are 253 confirmed cases in Niger and 10 deaths. The healthcare system is very weak; there aren’t enough hospitals, doctors or equipment to support the population, even in the absence of Coronavirus. Limiting the spread of the virus is imperative to avoid large numbers of fatalities.

RAIN’s work is more important than ever during this crisis. Our partner communities are some of the most vulnerable and underserved populations in the world. They will be hit hard by this pandemic and the road to recovery – health, economic, and otherwise – will be difficult. As we adapt to this ever-changing situation, our priorities are to help partner communities cope and keep our staff safe.

To that end, we are:

  • Increasing access to clean water: Clean water is essential for handwashing, the single most important preventive measure, yet many communities in Niger still lack clean water. RAIN is urgently raising funds to drill wells in partner communities.
  • Promoting healthy behaviors: We are providing our mentors and their mentees – who already receive health and hygiene training – with the soap and other materials they need to put their knowledge into action to protect themselves and their communities.
  • Sustaining educational gains: While school closures are necessary, they risk the students’ ability to complete the academic year successfully. Girls, in particular, are at high-risk of not returning to school after prolonged absences. We will work with local mentors to support students and their families during this crisis and encourage students to return to school as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • We are seeking additional ways to provide support in partner communities where food and other basic necessities are harder to come by as markets close and people lose income.
  • RAIN’s Nigerien staff are overseeing program implementation remotely, providing technical support, and offering encouragement to communities by phone. We will be providing washing stations and other materials to help staff and their families stay healthy.

We must act swiftly and boldly to mitigate this crisis. Your continuing support is vital. We know many people’s finances are in flux; if you’re not in a position to give right now, we appreciate your continued interest in and support of RAIN’s work. If you are able to give now, here are a few ways you can make a difference:

  • Donate to our matching campaign with One Day’s Wages and double your impact. We’re only $6,500 away from being able to drill a well to supply clean water in support of basic hygiene and a local garden to supplement community food needs as markets close.
  • Become a “Rainmaker” – a monthly donor. Monthly giving assures consistent support for women and youth in Niger and can be easier on the budget than a large gift. If you usually donate $50 a year, try giving $5 a month, if you give $100, commit to giving $10 a month. You can sign up on our website by indicating “Monthly Payments – Credit Card” under the “Payment Method” section.
  • Give a one-time gift of any amount to ensure we do not leave the most vulnerable to fend for themselves in this time of uncertainty. You can give online or mail a check to “RAIN” at PO Box 1503, Portsmouth NH 03802.

These are unprecedented times that demand an unprecedented mobilization of resources, ingenuity, and compassion. With your help, RAIN’s work will give some of the most vulnerable among us a fighting chance at a future.

If you have any questions about the situation, our response, or how you can help, please let me know. You can respond to this email or write to me at katherine@rain4sahara.org.

With gratitude for your support and certainty that together we can help our Nigerien partners to make it through as well,
Katherine Kolios
Executive Director of Rain for the Sahel and Sahara