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16 Stories in 16 Days |Eight| How a Woman in Niger is Helping to Build Peace in Her Neighborhood

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This is a story about a Ni Ima. Ni Ima lives in a neighborhood in Niamey, the capital city of Niger. In Ni Ima’s neighbourhood, like in many neighbourhoods in Niger, there are very few social services and violence between the local youth is a common occurrence.  
But this is not a story about violence. This is a story about hope and change and, in 2010 Ni Ima hoped she could change her neighborhood by creating a listener group made up entirely of women from the local area. Each week the women got together, listened to the radio programs Sada Zamunci, a good governance show, or Gwadaban Matasa – a youth show, both which were created by Equal Access. They then talked about the topics raised including tolerance, mutual support and how to manage conflicts.

The group call themselves Tashi da Kanka (or Rise Up and Help Yourself) and very soon they were doing just that. Inspired by the positive messaging in the radio program, the group exchanged ideas on how to improve their living environment in their neighborhood and decided to set up a system to provide each woman with a small amount of money each week. The custom, known as Tontine, meant that instead of being financially dependent on men, each woman would donate a certain amount of money each week and that pool of money would go to one of them, the next week it would rotate to someone else in the group. The money would benefit the women because they could use it personally to develop or boost their own small businesses (such as selling candies or making and selling bread.

But the story of Ni Ima does not end there. By encouraging women to come to her home each week and participate in the Tontine, Ni Ima soon became extremely well known and respected and before long she was seen as a leader in her community. She was even asked by the neighborhood chief to reconcile disputes between youth in the neighborhood using the messaging that her and her group had absorbed from the radio episodes they listened to each week. Recognising that Ni Ima was making a difference, the Peace Through Development (PDEV) project provided Ni Ima with additional grants to train local women how to read and to carry out awareness-raising activities in the Fada where young people meet in her neighborhood.

The Peace Through Development Project (PDev II) project was a 5 year (2011 – 2016) USAID funded project intended to decrease the risk of violent extremism in vulnerable areas of Niger, Chad, and Burkina Faso. The program aimed to achieve this goal through a range of activities which empowered youth, increase moderate voices, increased civil society capacity to address community issues, and strengthened local government.

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