Mothers with their children line up waiting for food and medical attention at the Saga feeding center located at a hospital run by the Sisters of Mother Teresa on the outskirts of Niamey, Niger. The center is supported by Rotary and receives 300 mothers a day, providing health care and food for babies. In 2005, Niger, one of the world's poorest countries suffered a severe drought and the worst locust infestation in 15 years. In September of 2005, at the height of the food crisis, nearly a third of the country's 12 million people faced starvation. Even when the country isn't facing a drought, 40 percent of children in Niger are malnourished. Niger also has the highest birth rate in the world with an average of 8.3 children. One in four of those children die by the age of five. Less than 10 percent of Nigerien women are literate and a woman's life expectancy is only 44 years. One long term goal of Rotarians in Niger is educating more of the children, especially girls, partly as a way to deal with the nation's high birth rate. Rotarians working in Niger also 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 humanitarian efforts in Niger in 2005-06.
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