Mariama Adao, "We help each other... but it is hard"

Mariama Adao, aged 40 and a mother of eight, makes the 400km journey from Matameye in the south of Niger to Agadez in the north almost every year to make ends meet between growing seasons. However, this year’s poor harvest forced her to leave earlier - and bring six of her children with her.



She told IRIN about her life:



"My husband is a farmer [in the Matameye region]. We grow millet, sorghum, cow peas and peanuts. Normally we produce 20-25 sacks, but this year we did not even get five. There was not enough rain. We have only known one other year like this [in 2005].



"When we saw that the rains were not coming I came here very quickly... with six of my children. I could not just stay there with my arms folded. I had to make headway and come here quickly [to Agadez] to make money to survive. My husband is old. He stayed with our two eldest daughters, who are married. They manage to provide him with food.



"We travelled for more than two days in a truck. A month after we arrived I managed to find a job doing housework in someone’s home. My [17-year-old] son was also employed in another house. My youngest is two years old. The children do not go to school.



"We come to Agadez because, of the eight regions [of Niger], we feel that we will find the most solidarity here. You can find more food here too. We were told that there was a food distribution [intended for people in the Agadez area affected by the September 2009 floods] here, but we have not received anything yet.



"I come here every year but this year there are a lot more of us than usual. Everyone has had problems [in the Matameye region]. Among my neighbours [in Agadez], a few have managed to find work and the others beg.



"At the moment we are getting by; we help each other. If one person has nothing to eat, we share with them. There is a sense of goodwill, but it is hard. I will not go back before the next rainy season in the south [May]. We need rain."



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