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Enhancing Markets and Nutrition in Niger


The five-year USAID Yalwa activity strengthens the capacities of farmers, producer organizations, agribusinesses and rural households in the Maradi, Tillabéri and Zinder regions of Niger to meet the growing demand for affordable, safe and nutritious food. Yalwa means “fulfillment” or “blossoming” in the Hausa language.

USAID Yalwa supports USAID’s regional Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) program, which works with the Government of Niger to help citizens escape poverty and build resilience to natural, economic, and other shocks. USAID Yalwa includes a ground-breaking component on food market systems and follows five years of progress generated by the USAID-funded Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth (REGIS-AG) program, also implemented by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA).

Program Approach:

USAID Yalwa’s market systems facilitation approach is based on collaboration with catalytic local actors and networks. Yalwa will work primarily through unions to provide services to producer groups (access to agro-inputs, finance, skills development, etc.), while building their capacity to provide services without project support. The approach leverages commercial investments to build long-term linkages between buyers and sellers, ensure delivery of inputs and services, and supply nutritious food. It also builds the skills of farmers, traders, and processors so they can earn a profit from their businesses, seek out nutritious foods, and become self-reliant.

Yalwa targets 102,700 farmers in over 387 villages, and 442 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by fulfilling the following purposes:

  1. Enhance performance of market  systems in the cowpea, small ruminant and poultry value chains.
  2. Increase the use of high-quality inputs and services such as seeds, fertilizers, and livestock and poultry feed, improving food production and storage and supporting improved marketing, production and access to finance and climate information.
  3. Increase local consumption of nutritious, safe and affordable foods by promoting demand and helping market actors to supply these foods to targeted populations.
  4. Promote inclusive markets for women and youth by identifying barriers to market participation and working with communities to encourage youth and women’s entrepreneurship and leadership.


USAID Yidgiri

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Enhancing Markets and Nutrition in Burkina Faso


The five-year Feed the Future-funded USAID Yidgiri Activity (2020-2025) is designed to strengthen market systems for the agriculture sector, sustainably improve household incomes and enhance the nutritional status of women and children in Burkina Faso. By February 2025, USAID Yidgiri will improve the performance and resilience of these market systems by establishing profitable linkages between agriculture producers and buyers and facilitating access to local and regional markets, specifically in the cowpea, poultry and small ruminant value chains.

Aptly named Yidgiri, or “grow” in the Mòoré language, USAID Yidgiri is part of the second phase of the USAID Regional Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) initiative, which supports vulnerable communities in Burkina Faso to effectively prepare for and manage recurrent crises and pursue sustainable pathways out of poverty. The Activity is implemented in the Centre-North, East and Sahel regions of Burkina Faso by Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture (CNFA) in consortium with the Association Nodde Nooto (A2N) and the Research and Action for Development Group (GRAD).

Program Approach:

USAID Yidgiri strengthens the resilience of food market systems around cowpea, livestock and poultry value chains by building individual and institutional capacities among producers and agricultural market actors in Burkina Faso through three focus objectives:

  1. Enhanced performance of commodity market systems by establishing profitable market linkages between producers and buyers, improving livestock market system structure and governance and enhancing access to affordable financial products and services for market system actors, including farmers, producer organizations and micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs).
  2. Increased utilization of quality inputs and services by supporting business clusters, organizing seasonal commodity fairs, facilitating partnerships between producer organizations and industrial and institutional buyers and facilitating access to financial services. USAID Yidgiri also works at the systems level to improve affordability and access to quality inputs, while educating farmers on the most efficient and effective use of available inputs and services for improved productivity in each of the three target value chains.
  3. Increased local consumption of nutritious, safe and affordable foods by supporting producers, processors and other market actors to increase supply and meet rising consumer demand, respond to consumer needs and preferences and improve safety standards. USAID Yidgiri’s social marketing approach is complimented by social behavior change (SBC) interventions that increase consumer demand and raise nutritional awareness at the community and household levels. Special emphasis is placed on building the technical capacity of processors and traders to supply and market healthy products and increasing the incomes of producers to be able to afford them.


Changing Male Perception towards Domestic Duties

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Although Rwanda has registered remarkable improvements in gender equality, some men continue to shun domestic duties as reserved for women. Those that get involved in domestic chores often end up being ridiculed by fellow males as ‘inganzwa’ (a reference to a husband who is subservient to his wife), a tendency that discourages males from supporting their wives at home. However, one farmer has vowed to change this status quo.

Elaste Mbonimpaye, (35), resides in Kabusunzu village, Isangano cell, Ndego sector in Kayonza district. He supports his wife at home but is always dismayed by the attitude of fellow males towards domestic chores. Luckily, he was selected by his community to become a male gender champion. These are groups organized by HW to mobilize males to engage in gender and nutrition-related activities. Through current community volunteers – 150 male gender champions, 150 female role models, and 100 Youth for Change, HW is mobilizing communities to adopt dietary diversity and proper nutrition. The aim is to improve the nutritional status for women and children and to increase yield and incomes for 560,000 farmers.

Elaste joined a care group in September 2018 and received training on gender equality and female empowerment with focus on equitable decision – making regarding family incomes and equal division of labor. Leading by example, he showed how this has changed his own household. That is all he needed to mobilize and train 30 farmers in his group and their spouses, who are now able to take joint decisions and divide home chores.

His wife, Nakure Médiatrice, is evidence of how increased support with childcare enabled her to have enough spare time to engage in the activities of a women savings group. She invested 40,000 RWF of her savings into a small retail shop of fresh foods and vegetables.

“I’m now closer to my children while my wife is now generating income for the family,” observed Elaste.

From the savings, they were able to acquire three additional plots of land, paid for community health insurance for the whole family, and bought scholastic materials for their children.

The family is still counting their gains. The wife has since gained confidence to make decisions at home and that has opened many windows of opportunity. She now has spare time to educate other women on how to manage domestic affairs and also takes care of herself.

Improving Business for Irish Potato Aggregators in Rwanda

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Rwanda is the sixth largest producer of Irish potatoes in Africa. However, its competitiveness is challenged by low quality agro-inputs, poor storage capacity, and weak coordination between farmer groups and potential buyers, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Consequently, this leads to low yield, high post-harvest losses and, subsequently, low prices on the market.

However, the difficult situation has turned into a business opportunity for some who are frustrated by the challenges.  Enias Hangiyaremye is an Irish potato aggregator near Kavumu sector in the western district of Ngororero. He started the business in 2014 and it was initially performing well, but, unfortunately, it did not go as well as anticipated due to poor business management, lack of markets, and bad debtors.

Irish potato aggregator Enias Hangiyaremye loading up produce for the market.

In 2018, Hangiyaremye engaged with HW to benefit from a series of trainings for aggregators and suppliers. Funded by USAID, HW is promoting the production, marketing, and consumption of Irish potatoes together with other value chains – HIB, OFSP, maize, and horticulture – for 560,000 farmers across 10 districts. The aims is to increase farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of women and children, and increase the resilience of agricultural and food systems to a changing climate.

Together with 32 other aggregators, Hangiyaremye gained skills in business management -– including quality assurance, record keeping, and contract farming – to grow his Irish potato business. He now sells 20 MT, up from 15 MT when he started with HW, and he is able to buy in bulk at the time of harvest, manage stock, and deliver to clients on time, thereby sustaining the market for farmers. Hangiyaremye has also diversified the business and is now managing an input credit scheme worth 27.4 million ($31.3million) for 160 Irish potato farmers. “I help farmers to access agro inputs like Irish potato seeds, lime, and fertilizers on credit and they pay back after harvest,” observed Hangiyaremye.

To promote all HW value chains, Hangiyaremye, and 11 other aggregators were assisted to sign 68 contracts for the supply of 164 MT of Irish potatoes, 5,212 MT of maize, 150 MT of high iron beans, 8,472 MT of horticulture crops and 929 KG of OFSP. Sales are now worth USD $3,876,427 and farmers are able to access finance worth 1.416 billion RWF (USD $1.62 M).

Managing business is no easy task, but, through HW, aggregators are finding a niche in the unpredictable Irish potato market.

Transforming women and children welfare through care groups

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Although Rwanda has registered strides in improving nutritional intake for women and children, numerous challenges still abound. According to the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability analysis (2015), about 20% of households nationwide are considered food insecure. In Gatsibo alone, the study found that about 3% of households are severely food insecure.

One Gatsibo resident who has experienced this challenge is Denyse Nyirabakunzi, a resident of Kageyo Sector, Gituza Cell, Kabacuzi Village. It was worrying not being able to properly feed her six children. But something more worrying caught Denyse’s attention.  This was a case of two malnourished children in her neighborhood who appeared sickly and underweight. They did not have enough to eat. Denyse wanted to help but was hampered by limited knowledge of nutrition.

‘’We didn’t know how to prepare diversified diets because of limited knowledge on nutrition, “observed Denyse.

An opportunity arrived when Denyse was recruited by community health workers to join one of the care groups usually made up of 20 to 30 members. Funded by USAID and Feed the Future, Hinga Weze is utilizing care groups disseminate nutrition messages, encourage members to save and improve hygiene. Hinga Weze mainly aims to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income and increase the resilience of Rwanda’s agricultural and food to a changing climate.

Care group members harvest beetroot from a garden belonging to one of the members

Through her group, Denyse and fellow members are able to receive messages on nutrition and to conduct cooking demonstrations. Her group is one of the 1,219 new ones Hinga Weze has established in 10 districts, consisting of more than 34,000 households that are coached by community health workers and farmer promoters. In Gatsibo alone, Hinga Weze set up 2,000 households.

With help from fellow care group members care group, Denyse was able to provide nutritious foods for the two malnourished children, but also taught their families how to diversify and prepare diets and maintain hygiene to fight against germs.  And there is more.  Her care group has been able to save 51,000Rwf part of which is used to acquire nutritious foods for cooking demonstrations.

“I have learned to prepare a balanced and diversified diet and how to preserve vegetables to be used during dry seasons,” Denyse observed as she emphasized the importance of peer learning.

She has set up a kitchen garden near her home to serve as a model for other community members and also to provide vegetables for her own family. Using the demonstration garden, Denyse has so far 53 neighboring households who, in turn, set up their own kitchen gardens. Denyse is preparing for the larger mission of ensuring that her village is food secure and free of malnourished children.

Rwanda Families Empowered to Curb Malnutrition and Stunting

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Although Rwanda has recorded improvements, stunting and malnutrition remains a challenge especially among children and women. It is recorded at 38% among children under five and only 18% meet the Minimum Acceptable Diet (MAD). Young mothers are hit hard and Nirere Alphonsine (34 years) has not been spared. Her ordeal dates way back to a severed childhood when Alphonsine did not have enough to feed on causing deficiencies in vital nutrients. Now at 34 years of age, she is a mother of two who were born with mild signs of cognitive impairment due to poor feeding by their mother during pregnancy.

“Whenever I was pregnant, I would feel weak, unable to walk or do my chores. I did not know I was malnourished and this affected my babies,” It is a miracle that my first born is alive because I nearly lost my own life when I was pregnant,” Nirere says with a sigh!

Alphonsine is a resident of Nyabihu District, one of the districts with a high stunting rate of 59% (DHS 2015 Report). Her own sector of Rurembo has recorded many children and pregnant mothers who continue to lack enough nutritious diets. This directly adds to the rate of morbidity and mortality of mothers and infants. The community needed to be mobilized and rescued from poverty.

Nirere tends to her young daughter

A lifeline for Nirere came in 2017 when she was enrolled into a care group. These are some of the activities organised by Hinga Weze, a USAID/Feed the Future funded program that aims to improve the nutritional status of women and children. This is part of its core mission to sustainably increase smallholder farmers’ income, improve the nutritional status of Rwandan women and children, and increase the resilience of agriculture and food systems to the changing climate.

Hinga Weze uses Care Groups model (CGs) and Community-Based Volunteers (CBVs) to reach families and these are then encouraged to form or join clusters. Through these groups members are receive messages on behavioral change and are encouraged to adopt better nutritional practices. Beneficiaries are also coached how to provide care for children from 0-5 years old and adopt non-gendered roles in the households. Together with her husband, Nirere is taking the lead to encourage her cluster group called DUHASHYE BWACYI (Let’s fight against malnutrition and stunting) to grow set up home gardens of nutritious vegetables.

“We now have home gardens with vegetables for our families. Through training, we know how to prepare nutritious meals especially for pregnant women and children,” Nirere says happily. My husband too comes along and we have been taught to budget together,  He has learnt to be involved in our domestic management as well as supporting me in preparing home gardens and family meals. Nirere’s family is among the 34,000 most vulnerable households supported by Hinga Weze to improve food security in 2018.  Through CBV, the households were supported to establish 2,530 home gardens. and 21,510 benefited from integrated approaches, demonstrations and trainings on nutrition and adoption of new low-cost technologies in ten districts of Karongi, Rutsiro, Nyamasheke, Nyabihu, Ngororero, Nyamagabe, Gatsibo, Kayonza, Ngoma and Bugesera. The future is bright for Nirere.

Nirere Alphonsine preparing vegetables together with her husband and child

Sifisimpilwenhle Community Health Club Raises Funds to Improve their Health

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Date: April 2018

Place: Ward 17, Gwanda

In western Zimbabwe, a group of dedicated community members from Gohole Village are working to improve their health with the support of the USAID-funded Amalima program. The members belong to Sifisimpilwenhle Community Health Club (CHC), named from the Ndebele word meaning, “we wish for a better life.” The CHC promotes improved health and hygiene behaviors and has inspired other community members to improve their own nutrition and health.

Five members hold goats which the whole group raises as their income generating activity to raise funds for building hygiene facilities in the members’ homestead

As part of USAID’s efforts to improve nutrition and health, the Amalima program works with communities to establish CHCs, like this one, in Amalima’s four districts of Bulilima, Mangwe, Gwanda and Tsholotsho. Since the program started in 2013, 415 CHCs have been established. Amalima provides a participatory health and hygiene education curriculum to train CHCs on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and on other Participatory Health and Hygiene curriculums. After members graduate, Amalima encourages CHC alumni groups to pursue income generating activities to keep the groups together, maintain momentum for practicing good WASH behaviors, and enable groups to fund the construction and establishment of hygiene enabling facilities, such as “tippy taps” handwashing stations, pot racks, and latrines. The CHCs support behavior changes in their communities around WASH practices. For groups that want to start an income generating activity, Amalima will first provide Village Saving and Lending training on group formation, constitution development, group fund development, loans and loan appraisal, and recordkeeping, so the groups the can build savings to fund their activity. Amalima will then provide a Selection, Planning and Management training on starting an income generating activity and provide ongoing support on the specific activity. Sifisimpilwenhle CHC was formed in 2014, and then members graduated from the Participatory Health and Hygiene curriculum in 2015. After graduating, 11 of the 33 club members formed a village saving and lending group to fund an income generating activity breeding goats. Amalima provides targeted, ongoing support to the group by training them on goat management, including nutrition, breeding, health, housing, and goat marketing. Members started by each donating two goats (for a total of 22 goats) and have since expanded the groups’ herd to over 60 goats. As most of their breeders will be kidding from April to May; they expect to increase their herd to over 100 goats.

Sifisimpilwenhle uses a portion of their Village Saving & Lending funds to support their income generating activities and uses the proceeds to fund hygiene enabling facilities in their homes. Members make regular contributions to their Village Saving and Lending fund to purchase supplementary feed, construct goat pens, and purchased a Boer buck from ICRISAT3 to improve their herd. Using money earned through the sale of their goats, all the members of the group have constructed latrines and set up other hygiene enabling facilities4 in their homes. As the group continues to sell their herd they also hope to use proceeds to support other community members. One group member Mr Hupulang Nyathi echoed that “as a group we are prepared to drill our own borehole if we manage to raise funds; so that we improve our health and hygiene practices. This will be an advantage to us and the surrounding community who don’t have access to adequate and clean water”.

Group member inside one of the goat pens which protects the groups’ herd

Sifisimpilwenhle is has also influenced other members of the community. Success from their goat project has inspired four other groups form their own income generating activities and village saving and lending projects and further support nutrition and health in the area.



VS&L Group Builds Resilience for their Families and Communities

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Date:  October 2018

Place: Tsholotsho (Mayeza Village, Ward 11)

In February 2017, tropical cyclone Dineo destroyed community assets throughout Western Zimbabwe, including communities in certain wards of Tsholotsho District. The heavy winds and precipitation resulted in heavy flooding, especially around river banks, that damaged buildings and fields and created streams and gullies. Some community members’ households were so thoroughly damaged that they had to be temporarily relocated to Sipepa Rural Hospital and Sipepa Primarily and Secondary Schools. Community members also reported losing their property, livestock, and personal documents (national identification card and health cards). The Amalima program works with Village Saving and Lending (VS&L) groups, like the women of Thembisa VS&L Group, to improve access to savings, especially for women, to build community resilience to shocks. Through assistance from the USAID-funded Amalima program, members of Thembisa VS&L group have been able to raise funds to construct flood proof housing to better protect themselves against future flooding.

The Thembisa VS&L group is a 10 member, all female group which has used VS&L group funds to invest in floodproof housing. The group originally formed in 2009 as a savings and lending group to address a challenge faced by many communities’ members – poor access to funds for important household expenses. The group started out by having each member contribute $10 USD monthly. Members could then borrow from the group fund when an expense came up which exceeded the amount they had available, like school fees, medical costs, or funeral expenses. Then in 2015, the group received training from Amalima on the VS&L model and learned to not just contribute monthly to a group fund, but also to provide loans with interest to further increase their group fund.

In 2016, the group joined a disaster risk reduction training. By being based in a lower lying area and near the banks of the Manzamnyama River, their ward is located in a flood prone area. While the most recent flood was in 2017, there have also been reports of heavy floods in 1978, 2001, and 2013. Amalima’s disaster risk reduction training is focused on hazard identification, mapping, ranking and coming up with mitigation measures, and the plan to implement the various activities. After completing the training, community members create plans to prioritize what work needs to be done by the community to reduce the risk of disasters. These activities include constructing fire guards; removing harmful invasive plants like Lantana Camara and Opuntia; and rehabilitating dams by de-silting, clearing the dam wall of vegetation, and protecting the catchment area.

After receiving the DRR training, Thembisa VS&L group saw the challenges faced by community members when the 2017 floods hit. While no members of the VS&L had their home destroyed, their property was still hurt and several of their neighbors’ homes were destroyed. In response, the group decided to use their group savings towards supplying each member with a reinforced home to protect against future floods. Using funds raised through their group income generating project and VS&L fundraisers, each member is provided a pre-selected set of materials and labor valued at $1,105, as listed below:

  • Bricks (valued at $200)
  • Roof trusses (valued at $260)
  • Metal roofing or thatched roofing (valued at $120)
  • Cement (valued at $225)
  • Labor provided by a builder (valued at $300)

To date, six members have received the full package of materials and labor. Four members are still outstanding, however the group aims to raise the rest of the funds needed to supply the outstanding members by the end of January. Without the funds generated through their Amalima-supported VS&L activities, the members say they would not have had the funds to build these disaster resistant homes.

The accomplishment of the Thembisa VS&L group has inspired other VS&Ls in the area to also invest in floodproof housing. As other community members are seeing the outcomes of Thembisa VS&L’s initiative and hard work, they are also saving to build their own flood proof housing. For example, Zamimpilo VS&L has completed construction of two floodproof houses and is in the process of constructing two more floodproof houses. The other 7 groups in the village are in the process of saving up funds for construction of their flood proof structures.

VS&L Group Builds Resilience for their Families and Communities

Thembisa VS&L group with floodproof housing

Kwite AMC Mobilizes Community to Improve Constructed Dam

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Date: July 2018

Place: Ward 1, Mangwe

Located in Southwestern Zimbabwe, Ward 1 (Empandeni) in Mangwe district is generally dry. It receives about 300 mm of rain per year, which is used by community members for agricultural production, livestock watering, and household use. To improve access to water resources, the USAID-funded Amalima program constructs or rehabilitates dams through the Cash/Food for Assets (C/FFA) activity. Once Amalima finishes construction or rehabilitation, Amalima trains individuals selected by the community for to serve as the Asset Management Committee (AMC) responsible for managing and maintaining the constructed or rehabilitated asset. This committee is key to ensuring the long-term sustainability of the asset, even after the program has ended.

Amalima worked with four villages in Ward 1 (Empandeni East, Kwite, Mhlotshana, and Mkaya) to assess, plan, and construct Kwite Dam. The dam was constructed over two phases, which began in August 2016 and ended in August 2017. For phase 1, 200 workers (154 females, 46 males) focused on the dam’s super structure by constructing a 4.3-meter-high masonry wall, 550m in length at spillway level, and a seasonal stream. For phase 2, 151 workers (114 females, 37 males) constructed a silt trap, gabion basket, and some bolsters across water ways to reduce land degradation and dam siltation. The constructed dam is at least 20,000m3 large and contains enough water to remain at 90% capacity. The dam provides water to 558 households and at least 3,500 livestock (including donkeys, cattle, goats, and sheep). This reduces the burden on women who previously travelled up to 10 kilometers with their livestock to access water points. In times of drought, the surrounding community from Ward 1 and Ward 13 can access water from the dam for domestic use.

Watershed around Kwite Dam

To support the sustainability of the dam, Amalima worked with the community to create a seven member (3 females, 4 males) AMC responsible for operating and maintaining the dam’s water system. The AMC was trained in sustainable environmental management, constitution development, fundraising, conflict resolution and maintenance of the dam. The AMC was also linked to relevant government ministries and departments including the Department of Agricultural, Technical, and Extension Services (AGRITEX), and the District Fund. The committee meets monthly, as reflected by their constitution, to discuss their operations and maintenance of the dam. Based on these meetings the committee will engage local leadership to mobilize community members and raise funds for additional construction and maintenance.

In 2018, the committee engaged local leadership to expand their conservation works. Following a look and learn visit facilitated by Amalima to another dam constructed by Amalima,Makhelwane dam, the committee was motivated to improve the watershed of their dam by curbing soil erosion around the dam.  Using knowledge gained from the look and learn visit, the committee engaged local leadership to share their vision of protecting the dam from silt with the rest of the community. As a result, 126 community members (107 females, 19 males) came together to create barriers using stones and indigenous plants to slow the flow of water and reduce the amount of silt entering the dam. Nearby farmers located upstream from the dam were also instructed to dig contours in their dryland fields to reduce erosionThe community members were a mix of former C/FFA workers and new participants that worked twice a week, donating their time from 7 am – 9 am, until the conservation works were complete. As a result, 19 hectares within the dam’s catchment area was protected.

Moving forward, Kwite AMC plans to continue mobilizing resources to fence off the dam and provide maintenance as needed. The AMC also has plans to establish two productive activities – a fish farm for local consumption and an apiary to produce honey for sale. The AMC plans to continue working with local leadership and government stakeholders to ensure the dam is well protected and can be better utilized by the surrounding community.