For thousands of years, the Niger River has been the lifeblood for not only Niger, but also its neighboring countries in the Niger River Basin. Yet, even as many Nigeriens depend on the mighty waterway for food, water, and livelihoods, the Niger River also poses a severe flood risk to the West African country during the rainy season. In the third quarter of 2017, widespread flooding due to heavy rains claimed the lives of over 50 people and displaced nearly 200,000.
For several years during my childhood, I helped my mother plant vegetables and harvest crops on an urban farm in the distant suburbs of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Growing up working on the farm with my siblings and observing my mother work diligently towards the goal of full harvest made me realize what a challenging yet fulfilling journey it is to be a female farmer in a developing country. My mother refused to yield when confronted with adversity--Mongolia’s harsh climate, crop theft, as well as a lack of necessary inputs, labor, and agricultural services- all while taking care of her four children and handling chores.