In about 5 hours, I will be on my way, flying Ethiopian Airways – the “new” form of travel to Africa for Israelis.
· The seats, I’m told are built for the narrow slender figure of an Ethiopian person – not a fleshy Caucasian woman, like myself, hope to mange.
· To reach Niamey the capital of Niger– our first destination on our journey, we will fly 17 hours straight in a 3 leg flight, from Tel-Aviv to Addis Ababa; Addis to Lome in Togo; Lome to Niamey – I will say this again and maybe more, I want you to internalize this, 17 hours flight, can’t believe I’m going to pass 17 hours, like this. Thank god we will arrive in the evening, so I expect to have a good night’s rest before we start Monday morning.
· Won’t have proper cell and internet connection – how will I be in contact with the world – big concern. My cell phone company recommended that I disconnect my roaming, because there is no roaming plan for Africa and I am liable to get thousands of shekels bill if I don’t, so very reluctantly I did.
Not worried about:
· The food – will mange, can practically eat anything and am looking forward to new tastes.
· The heat – love it….hope I feel that way after a couple of days.
Looking forward to:
· Meeting new people
· Getting to know different life styles
· Doing something about the water situation in the places I will be
· Seeing wonderful landscape
· Anything new……….
As good as I was in Geography, about a year ago, I did not even know half of the places that I intend to visit, let alone the capitals, climate, temperature and more. Since then I am more or less savvy in African geography and can at least tell apart western from eastern nations. And yah, I am aware that on my first visit to Africa, I will be all over the place from Niger in the west, to Cameroon, Madagascar in the south and Tanzania in the east…..17 hours is only the beginning!
From the country assistance strategy document of the World Bank from 2003:
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Per capita GNP stood at
approx US$180 in 2000 (World Bank Atlas method), and Niger ranks 161 out of 162 countries listed in UNDP's 2001 Human Development Report.
Poverty headcount of 63%.
Vulnerability to drought has worsened food insecurity and consequently malnutrition, affecting 40% of children under 5 years old. Combined with poor access to safe water, poor nutrition contributes to an infant mortality rate of 114 per 1000 and life expectancy of about 46 years. Adult illiteracy remains high at 84% and gross primary enrollment rates low at 42% overall, with female enrolment at only 33% of school-age girls for the school year 2001/2002. The burden of poverty and low social development falls
disproportionately on women, whose access to land, credit, technology, and social services remains very limited, despite some recent progress.
What we plan to do there
Together with our local partner Mahamad, who has indentified an area which needs change, but the head of the area has also expressed their willingness to change we are going to design a water and agricultural project which will include well drilling and communal agricultural plots. The sustainability of the project will be kept by the concept of “work for water” and a very small charge which will enable maintenance, management and capacity building. More updates as we go along…….
· Visa to Niger –got it – Yeh, Yeh, Thank you Mahamad,
· Meetings are mostly scheduled, already had cancelations, changes, Hope we are able to stick to the plan.
· Hotels set…..except for the one in Niarobi, we will have a 10 hour stop over, so I want something close to the airport, let’s see what the embassy recommends.
Next time updates from Niamey
5 hours to go…….