A mother waits with her babies for medical attention and vaccinations at a Rotary sponsored clinic in Loga, Niger. Most of Niger's 14 million people live a precarious existence. Niger is one of the world's poorest countries with 80 percent of the population living in rural areas. Only about five percent of the land in Niger is fertile. Vast tracks of land where people live are unable to sustain or grow food. Village women spend the majority of their time hauling water, pounding millet and preparing meals for their families. Less than 10 percent of Nigerien women are literate and a woman's life expectancy is only 44 years. Niger also has the world's highest birth rate of 8.3 children. One in four of those children die by the age of five. Even when the country isn't facing a drought or the annual dry season, 40 percent of children in Niger are malnourished. Rotarians working in Niger seek support for long-term, sustainable projects that deal with alleviating poverty and ending the cycle of hunger during the annual dry season. In the 2005-06 Rotary year Rotarians in Niger helped win approval for seven Rotary Foundation Matching Grants for projects whose costs total US$270,000. The projects include increasing education for girls, setting up microcredit for women, building wells and establishing grain banks. In all, Rotarians worldwide contributed more than $700,000 for humanitarians efforts in Niger in 2005-06.
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