THE TAMESNA CENTER FOR NOMADIC LIFE
A model for sustaining nomadic herding in the north of Niger.
Niger’s nomads are largely overlooked by humanitarian aid organizations, because they are hard to find and hard to help. The Nomad Foundation’s unique TAMESNA Center for Nomadic Life, located on the annual migration route, will offer critical services to nomads without requiring they permanently settle down, lose their cultural traditions, and surrender their viable living as mobile herders. TAMESNA will offer medical, vocational, educational, agricultural and communication services at a convenient locale, accessible if and when the nomads choose to pitch their tents nearby. TAMESNA will be a hub, serving as the base of operations for the Nomad Foundation and centralizing services for the nomadic Wodaabe and Tuareg tribes. The TAMESNA prototype will serve as model that can be replicated on a smaller scale throughout northern Niger.
The key to life in the Sahara is water. Men, women and children devote much of each day to drawing and hauling water for their families and for their herds. In the Ingall area, the Nomad Foundation has dug 28 manually operated, cement wells at a cost of about $10,000 each. But drawing water manually is an exhaustive ordeal. It can take 14 hours for a nomad to water his herds. The TAMESNA Center currently has one solar-powered well with storage tank that supports the current medical clinic and staff and visiting patients. This shallow well does not provide enough water for herds, agriculture and expansion of the center’s facilities. So we are now digging another manual well. Our existing wells serve the clinic, school and a small population and their herds, but in order to accommodate an ever increasing population, our goal is to drill a deep high volume well to make both gardening and herding possible at Tamesna.
The TAMESNA Medical clinic opened in September 2009 serving a 50,000-square-mile area with no doctor. So far over 8,000 patients have been seen. Construction and equipment were funded by the Nomad Foundation, Rotary Clubs, and the Great Escape Foundation. The clinic is staffed by a full-time nurse and by visiting medical professionals. Patients are charged $1 per visit (and no charge for medication) to help defray costs, which pays for medicine, but does not cover the nurses salary. After determining that the most at risk population was pregnant women we started, under the direction of Dr. Bob Skankey, a retired OB GYN, a midwife training program. We have now trained 20 midwives and in over 500 assisted births not lost one mother or child born alive. The statistic in Niger is that one in seven have a lifetime risk of death in childbirth. For more details visit our midwife training page.
See all the midwife training mission blogs here
Schooling nomadic children is challenging because these herders are frequently moving in search of adequate pasture. Having supported eight schools in the Ingall region, (20% of all schools in the region) the Nomad Foundation has started on a new solution: a boarding school at TAMESNA. The school opened in October of 2012, in a temporary structure, but will be open to all nomads.
The first two classrooms opened in the fall of 2013.
Two dormitories and a teachers residence were constructed in 2015 by the nomads themselves in our earthbag building training.
Because we are required to construct the classrooms to the state standard we now need to hire a contractor to build a second set of classrooms for the 2015-16 school year. To donate click here.
The nomads’ diet consists of millet and milk . This diet often leads to problems with malnutrition because the nomads do not grow their own food and animals sometimes do not produce enough milk year round if pasture is scarce. The ability to grow their own food is the solution, but poses a challenge with the nomads mobile lifestyle. Our solution is to enclose a garden plot at the Tamesna center, planted largely with moringa, a complete food whose leaves can be dried, easily transported and used as a dietary supplement eliminating the need for refrigeration, or living next to a garden. This garden is managed by a local managing committee who assigns plots to families and one for the school, worked by the school kids to provide food for themselves and one for the clinic to provide nutrition for pregnant women and the malnourished.
To promote peace in the region, jobs must be created for nomads and ex-rebels who recently surrendered after a 2 year fight for better services and greater opportunities for the nomadic community. One enterprise proposed by the Nomad Foundation would not only provide crucial services to the nomadic community but would also provide jobs.
Biannual vaccinations are essential for herd health. Vaccination corrals (already funded by Rotary Club) will provide an enclosure to facilitate this. The cost of vaccinating an animal in the bush is $1/ animal. This can be cut in half if animals are brought to a central facility at TAMESNA. The herders will be charged the cost of the vaccine to replenish the supply. The school will soon be starting a program of herd management so that the school children can manage a herd and learn new techniques that can prevent the nomadic families from losing their herds to recurring droughts and diseases.
ADULT VOCATIONAL TRAINING
A Visitor’s Center completed in 2011, provides a place for educational programs, meetings and housing of visiting experts in the area of health, literacy, agriculture, business management, hydrology, animal health, environmental protection, pasture management, micro credit and vocational training.
TAMESNA CENTER is located in the Commune of Ingall, Niger
16* 28′ 46.74 N 7* 12′ 12.46″ E