Dirkou, a small town in northeast Niger, was once a bustling trading center and caravan stopping point in the heart of the Sahara. In stark contrast to that vibrant past, today it finds itself isolated from the rest of Niger due to both its remote location and its lack of economic opportunity.
The remoteness and isolation of Dirkou, much like that of the many areas of the Sahara and Sahel, is what attracts and provides safe haven to armed groups and violent extremists. The best way to combat these groups and the extremism, violence, and instability they spread is by addressing local grievances and building stronger ties between the population and their government.
Looking to do just that, a US Army team working in the region has identified house fires as a chief concern and safety issue for the people of Dirkou. These fires, caused by poor wiring and indoor cooking practices, are fairly common in this small desert outpost and take a tremendous toll on a population already living on the margins.
When fires strike, the Nigerien Army is called to put them out. Although this is not an official task, the Army is the only force in the area capable of responding. Currently, they are forced to fight these blazes with a tanker truck and buckets, a lengthy process puts soldiers in danger and leads to unnecessary property damage. Clearly, a better system is needed. A simple water pump would make firefighting efforts far more effective and, at the same time, would help the Nigerien military demonstrate their support for the inhabitants of Dirkou.
With your support, the US Army and their Nigerien partners can help address a critical local need and improve relationships with the community.