Niamey - Spade in hand and barefoot, Hanatou digs holes in the ground intended to catch rainwater. In her village of Tibiri, in southwest Niger, people are trying to break the annual cycle of food shortages.
Like dozens of other villagers in the blazing heat and dusty wind, the young woman works the stony soil to dig holes shaped like half-moons, three metres (10 feet) wide and 50 centimetres (1.6 feet) deep.
On the arid plateau near the clay houses of the village, the aim is to trap water and regenerate the terrain by planting acacia trees, in a project backed by the charity Oxfam and financed by the World Food Programme (WFP).
In Niger, one of the poorest countries of the world, six million people out of the 18 million in the desert Sahel region of west Africa are threatened with famine each year, according to the United Nations.
But the project in Tibiri "has changed our lives," Hanatou shyly told AFP.
Oxfam has set up a "work for money" programme in Tibiri, in which it pays farmers for activities that serve the community.