Niger, a country of 17,000,000 people sandwiched between Nigeria, Libya, Mali, and Chad—in the heart of the Sahara Desert—is one of the poorest countries in the world, plagued by endemic poverty, high birth/mortality rates, and a lack of economic opportunity. The UN recently ranked Niger as second to last (187 of 188) in its annual Human Development Index rankings.
Groups like Boko Haram, ISIS, al Qaeda, and others seek to exploit Niger’s vulnerabilities so that they can radicalize, recruit, and carry out attacks in the region and beyond. This extremist threat was highlighted recently by the tragic ambush of US Special Operations Forces working along the Mali-Niger border.
US Army teams are working to stabilize the most vulnerable regions of the country, striving to provide opportunities for progress to take root and thrive. In the northwest portion of Agadez, a place that is host to a US airbase aimed at countering terrorism in the region, US teams have focused on the issues local tribes identify as most important: human and animal food security, youth unemployment, and marginalization from the Nigerien government. Without assistance in addressing these challenges, tribal elders warned that tensions and unrest were building. In the under-governed spaces of West Africa, that can have disastrous consequences.
Spirit of America will continue to support this event, building on past success and tailoring that support to the evolving situation and US objectives in Niger. This year, Spirit of America plans to provide:
Five additional scholarships for local youth to attend the national veterinary school, giving them the skills they need to take care of their tribes’ livestock and to build an economic future for themselves, their families, and their tribes. Selected from among the villages surrounding the US airbase, these youths will bolster community relationships and further develop goodwill.
Funding for ten additional veterinarians –all previous SoA scholarship recipients –to participate in the annual vaccination campaign which will considerably increase the number of animals treated, improving herd health, livelihoods, food security, and the Nigerien government’s influence across the most remote portions of the country.
Kits of basic veterinary equipment and supplies for all previous graduates of our scholarship program to help them establish small businesses and veterinary practices in their villages. These kits are in direct response to feedback we received from both graduates and Ministry of Livestock leaders during the 2016 vaccination campaign.
With your help, SoA can continue to support the US military and the government of Niger in the Agadez region, a critical effort in a country that the former commanding general of Special Operations Command Africa, BG (Retired) Bolduc, recently called “a lynchpin country in West Africa.”
Hello, I just returned from supporting the annual Cure Salée Festival and associated livestock vaccination campaign in central Niger. This is the third year Spirit of America has worked with US Army teams to support the Government of Niger’s Cure Salée-related efforts. We first told you about these efforts here. This year, Spirit of America … Continued
This is the third year Spirit of America has worked with US Army teams to support the Government of Niger’s efforts at the Cure and the associated livestock vaccination campaign. This year, Spirit of America employed graduates of the veterinary scholarship program we’ve funded over the past two years to vaccinate the herds and publicize … Continued
Greetings, I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with some of the Spirit of America scholarship recipients that recently graduated from Community Veterinary Tech program in Maradi, Niger. Working with Nigerien counterparts in the central Agadez region of Niger, a U.S. Army team identified youth unemployment and a lack of financial opportunities … Continued
The recipients of veterinary training scholarships provided by Spirit of America in response to local needs identified by a U.S. Army Civil Affairs Team in Niger recently completed their training at the national veterinary school in the city of Maradi. We first told you about this project here and here. These scholarships were provided as … Continued
Greetings, I recently returned from ten days in Niger, the culmination of a project Spirit of America has been working on since the beginning of the year. Niger, just to the north of Nigeria, with Mali to its west, Chad to its east, and northern borders with Libya and Algeria, is by many measures one … Continued