This snapshot is for all you farmers out there – who truly understand the dependence upon God for your livelihood. (Love you Big Jim & Judy K!)
As you already know if you’ve been on this journey with us, Niger is one of the most undeveloped countries in the world. The government here has declared that a famine is in full swing. The economy is in awful shape, but some things simply continue as they have forever – the fields.
Fields in Niamey behind Sahel Academy, where our kids go to school.
This country produces mostly millet and sorghum, but there are actually all kinds of things being grown here. I personally enjoy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables every time I head to the market.
But here is the catch – they MUST have adequate rain. You see, there aren’t all of the fancy irrigation techniques and technology here. They don’t have damns on the Niger river to save water and disperse it where they like. They do things the old-fashioned way – they wait.
I took this photo in 2013 – here is a family living along the Niger River. They have easy access to water. But without modern irrigation methods, anyone living away from the river must wait for water the old-fashioned way – from the sky.
Right now, in the middle of hot season, everyone talks and dreams and aches for rain. The farmers want to get out there and plant but they must wait for the first big rain to be sure they won’t lose their seeds to the intense heat. I learned that it must rain again within two weeks of the first planting in order to have a crop…otherwise the seeds simply won’t survive.
In the Pacific Northwest, where I am from, hardly three days pass by without some moisture falling from the sky! Since we arrived here in January it has officially rained two times! TWO!
Here is a description from World Vision’s “water matters” website:
“Niger is one of the hottest, driest places in the world. Average temperatures are around 30 degrees C, but are capable of reaching over 50 degrees C in the hot season, between March and June. The air is so hot during these months that rain evaporates before it hits the ground. December through to February are cooler months and the temperature can actually drop to freezing in the night-time desert. The harmattan winds usually arrive just before the rains. They create dust storms that can cut visibility down to almost nothing. The rainy season comes to the southern parts of the country in late May to September, although rainfall is often unreliable.”
Two weeks ago we unexpectedly had our first really big rain! It came early, though. So I hear that some farmers took the gamble and planted their seeds in hope for more rain. Some didn’t. It hasn’t rained in Niamey since that day. What will this mean for those farmers?
My dear friend Enseoung Kim, who is a missionary from Korea, took this photo when it rained two weeks ago.
When the rain starts falling – (often after a horrendous dust storm!) – the relief and excitement in the city is tangible! After our recent rain two weeks ago, the temperature dropped 20 degrees and there was a fresh, revitalizing breeze. I know loads of friends whose children ran outside to jump around in it!
Here are some children of missionary friends who knew just how to enjoy the rain! (Our kids haven’t lived here long enough, they just stayed in bed.) Photo credit: Chantelle McIver
It’s a veritable rain party!
Honestly, can my friends in Washington State even IMAGINE? A rain party!
I borrowed these photos of a Niamey dust storm so you could see what that is like. I am usually hiding inside a building making sure the windows are shut when this happens – NOT taking pictures!
The dust storm arriving before the rain – hurry and get the laundry off the line! Photo credit: Ruth Wong
It is so normal that the people are just walking ! Photo credit: Ruth Wong
Voila! Thanks for taking a look at this snapshot. Now, pray with me for an excellent rainy season here in Niger.
To learn more about the rain here, check out these links:
This is a link to the facts page for kids – learning about Niger from World Vision.