Niger: Diplomat Aïchatou Mindaoudou works toimprove life in her village
Guidan Gado, Niger, 12 March 2022
Aïchatou Mindaoudou, an internationally renowned diplomat and lawyer, is passionate about improving the living conditions of people in rural areas and carrying out projects on a human scale by involving the population. She is known for her commitment to peace.
Supporting a virtuous circle of sustainable and productive community development, putting the people at the heart of the action, this is the challenge that Aïchatou Mindaoudou has been taking up for more than ten years, with the women, men and youth of her village of Guidan Gado(1), located more than 500 km from the capital in the Tahoua region of Niger.
The projects that she has financed in her village since 2009 facilitate the population’s access to drinking water, health, energy and education.
After building a multi-purpose cement well, to the great satisfaction of the villagers, especially the women and livestock breeders, Aïchatou Mindaoudou is committed to the construction of a modern solar-powered borehole to increase the agricultural production capacity of Guidan Gado and thus contribute to the fight against hunger and poverty.
For Aïchatou Mindaoudou, “adequate hydro-agricultural development will not only allow for the development of market gardening throughout the year, to diversify it, but also to provide substantial income for the population.”
One project in prospect for the young people of Guidan Gado concerns the production of renewable energy through the cultivation of Jatropha curcas; the oil from the Jatropha is transformed into a biofuel with properties similar to diesel fuel that can be used to power diesel engines.
“Like everywhere else, youth is the future. In the village, it is important to believe in young people, to support them in their promising projects, which will undoubtedly divert them from perilous adventures, such as migration to Nigeria, especially in this period of insecurity and various dangers,” explains Ms Mindaoudou.
Outraged by the state of the village school, which consisted of two dilapidated huts in which children were crammed to learn in difficult conditions, barely protected from the sun and bad weather, she built a new, fully-equipped, six-classroom school that now accommodates about 160 pupils, compared to the initial 40. The school also has modern latrines.
At the beginning of each school year, it provides each pupil with a complete school kit free of charge, consisting of all school supplies and books for each level.
The teachers’ houses in the village have also been completely rehabilitated by them.
To support school attendance, especially among girls, Aïchatou Mindaoudou did not hesitate to equip the school with a canteen, which provides pupils with two meals a day (breakfast and lunch), an effective way of promoting schooling in rural areas.
“I am fighting at my modest level for the girls in my village to go to school and stay in school. I insist that my parents keep them in school, and above all I am constantly advocating against early marriage and for girls to stay in school. During our meetings I always explain the harmful consequences of early marriages,” said Aïchatou Mindaoudou on 11 March 2022, during her project evaluation visit to Guidan Gado.
At night, the courtyards of the health centre and the school are lit by solar streetlights. The health hut, built by her in 2009, was completely rehabilitated and electrified with solar power in 2020. Latrines and showers have been built.
This health centre provides basic services, notably deliveries and treatment of common illnesses. It has provided the health centre with its first supply of essential medicines, thus enabling it to set up a staffing and supply mechanism.
In the same vein, in 2009, she built a fully equipped integrated health centre in the town of Madaoua in the department of Madaoua.
Today, Aïchatou Mindaoudou supports the establishment of an enlarged project management committee (COGES) that includes women, men and young people from the village, as well as representatives of the local authorities in the department of Madaoua, notably the water and sanitation, community development and water and forestry departments.
“My ambition is to contribute to the improvement of living conditions and the reduction of poverty in my village. One of the effective ways of achieving this goal is to develop income-generating activities for women and young people,” said Aïchatou Mindaoudou, who aims to open an office of a village savings and credit cooperative, the last step in supporting the entire programme.
According to Aïchatou Mindaoudou, “the objective is to create a virtuous circle of sustainable development that would involve all the components of the community in the identification of needs and in the management of achievements to ensure their well-being and prosperity.
1 – Guidan Gado is located in the Madaoua region, Tahoua, Niger – Latitude: 4° 10′ 25″ N Longitude: 6° 27′ 14″ E