Who We Are & What We Stand For


Rain for the Sahel and Sahara forges partnerships with rural and nomadic peoples in Niger to enable enduring and relevant livelihoods through access to education and opportunity.


We envision thriving West African communities which hold the power to create their own futures. 


RAIN values mutual respect – the giving and sharing of knowledge, skills and resources between RAIN and our stakeholders – our partner communities in West Africa. Basic education and secure livelihoods are critical to accessing the world of possibility for nomadic and rural peoples and their families.  

RAIN believes in the universally accepted values of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.


RAIN founder, Bess Palmisciano, first visited the Sahara desert of Niger in 2000. She was mystified and intrigued by the ability of the nomadic peoples to survive in such a barren landscape. Bess asked her guide, Moussa Haidara, to spend some time near a nomadic encampment. Bess listened to nomadic parents express their desire for education for their children, but without teachers, supplies, or food, they were at a loss. Back home in New Hampshire, Bess raised a modest amount of money to install the first drip irrigated garden in northern Niger — thereby helping a nomadic school provide food for its students. RAIN was founded in December 2001. 

Since 2001, working with partners, RAIN has installed 24 wells, established over 20 cooperative gardens that support local schools and communities, and worked with hundreds of women and children to ensure a brighter future.