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When a Family Meal Means Peace at Home

“Being hungry and having nothing to eat at home can create many problems in your family.” Balkissa and her husband, Daouda, live with their children in the village of Tolkoboye, near Niger’s capital city, Niamey. The lack of food has often disturbed the family harmony.

To feed their four children, Daouda has often had to leave his family to find work. “I used to travel to other regions in Niger to cultivate land. For a while I worked in the rice paddies and millet fields in Tillabéry. But the drought and infertile soil forced me to cross borders. First to Ghana, to earn money as a dockworker, and then to Nigeria.”

The food assistance Daouda and his family receive allows him to remain with his family and try to make a living by farming. “I don’t have to work abroad anymore. I also don’t need to borrow money from friends or take out a loan. (…) I grow millet and some vegetables for sale at the market. I cultivate my own land that I inherited from my father,” Daouda says proudly. When asked what the family meal means to them, he replies: “Being able to provide a family meal makes me happy and proud. Gathering everyone together to share a meal brings us peace.”


  • © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Balkissa is now a happy mother and wife again. Thanks to support from WFP, funded by the EU, her husband does not need to emigrate to find work every year, so they can lead a normal family life.
    Balkissa is now a happy mother and wife again. Thanks to support from WFP, funded by the EU, her husband does not need to emigrate to find work every year, so they can lead a normal family life.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Niger’s soil is not very fertile, but Daouda now manages to grow some millet on his own strip of land and provide for his family’s basic food needs.
    Niger’s soil is not very fertile, but Daouda now manages to grow some millet on his own strip of land and provide for his family’s basic food needs.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • These agricultural tools represent Daouda’s livelihood. Too often poor farmers are forced to sell such important items when drought hits and food becomes a priority. The cash grants which Daouda and his family receive provide a safety net so that they don’t have to make difficult  choices if times get tough in future.
    These agricultural tools represent Daouda’s livelihood. Too often poor farmers are forced to sell such important items when drought hits and food becomes a priority. The cash grants which Daouda and his family receive provide a safety net so that they don’t have to make difficult choices if times get tough in future.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • This little shed next to Balkissa’s home is used as the family’s kitchen.
    This little shed next to Balkissa’s home is used as the family’s kitchen.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Thanks to the cash and food support the family receives, Balkissa can prepare a real family meal for her husband and four children, with fresh ingredients bought at the local markets.
    Thanks to the cash and food support the family receives, Balkissa can prepare a real family meal for her husband and four children, with fresh ingredients bought at the local markets.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Thanks to the cash and food support the family receives, Balkissa can prepare a real family meal for her husband and four children, with fresh ingredients bought at the local markets.
    Thanks to the cash and food support the family receives, Balkissa can prepare a real family meal for her husband and four children, with fresh ingredients bought at the local markets.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • These days rice is the most common dish for the family. “Unfortunately, we cannot afford to eat much meat,” Balkissa says.
    These days rice is the most common dish for the family. “Unfortunately, we cannot afford to eat much meat,” Balkissa says.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • “Even for this year’s Ramadan festivities, we did not have meat on our plates,” she sighs.
    “Even for this year’s Ramadan festivities, we did not have meat on our plates,” she sighs.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Balkissa has taught her children  always to wash their hands before  meals. She knows that one of the easiest ways to avoid illness and prevent malnutrition is a clean environment. It is one of several messages about healthy nutrition disseminated by WFP at food distributions.
    Balkissa has taught her children always to wash their hands before meals. She knows that one of the easiest ways to avoid illness and prevent malnutrition is a clean environment. It is one of several messages about healthy nutrition disseminated by WFP at food distributions.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • Dinner today is ‘Souroundou’, a traditional Nigerien dish made of rice, oil, salt and local spices. Once it is ready, everyone gathers in front of the house.
    Dinner today is ‘Souroundou’, a traditional Nigerien dish made of rice, oil, salt and local spices. Once it is ready, everyone gathers in front of the house.
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • When asked what the family meal means to them, Daouda says: “Being able to provide a family meal makes me happy and proud. Gathering all together to share a meal brings us peace.”
    When asked what the family meal means to them, Daouda says: “Being able to provide a family meal makes me happy and proud. Gathering all together to share a meal brings us peace.”
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
  • “The family meal is a moment of happiness and pride,” Daouda admits. “Even though my wife and I don’t eat from the same plate, we always sit next to each other to share our stories and talk about our plans for the future.”
    “The family meal is a moment of happiness and pride,” Daouda admits. “Even though my wife and I don’t eat from the same plate, we always sit next to each other to share our stories and talk about our plans for the future.”
    © World Food Programme / Chris Terry, supported by the EU
Our cooperation in Niger

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world, prone to political instability and natural disasters such as droughts, floods and locust infestation.

It is estimated that around 2.5 million people in Niger suffer from chronic food insecurity, being unable to meet their basic food needs. Even when harvests are good, the circumstances of poor households are extremely precarious.

With the help of the EU and other donors, WFP provides these families with cash and food assistance in the form of cereals, pulses and oil. In Niger, WFP also supports thousands of refugees who have escaped conflict and hunger in neighbouring Nigeria and Mali.

The nutritional status of Niger’s children is especially worrying: one in eight children do not reach the age of five and an alarming 42 percent of youngsters are chronically malnourished. To address this silent crisis, WFP provides infants with specialized food, such as a ready-to-eat, highly nutritious peanut paste, called Plumpy Doz. This product is designed to help prevent acute malnutrition and reduce the risk of death among young children.