International cooperation between Germany and Niger began in the 1960s. GIZ and its predecessor organisations have had an office in the capital Niamey since 1968. In 2008 a German development cooperation country office became the new home of GIZ and the representative of KfW Development Bank. GIZ currently has 16 seconded experts, 14 development workers and 129 national employees working in Niger.
With a population of 19 million inhabitants and an annual per capita income of around EUR 500, the Republic of Niger is one of the world’s 10 poorest countries. An unpredictable climate, together with exhausted soils and erosion, pose a constant threat to agricultural production. Frequent natural disasters and high population growth mean that Niger is often affected by food crises.
Niger is an exporter of natural resources, whose most important products are uranium and oil. It also derives foreign exchange from gold and agricultural products, including livestock. The country is three-and-a-half times the size of Germany, but a mere 15 per cent of its area is suitable for farming. Poverty is particularly severe in rural regions, home to 80 per cent of the population. The country’s modest economic growth mainly benefits the urban elite. Its landlocked position, poor infrastructure, inefficient government institutions, lack of access to education, inadequate health care, rapid population growth and difficult security situation, all comprise major obstacles to development.
Following a phase of political instability, with a military coup in 2010, April 2011 saw the restoration of a democratically elected government in Niger. Since then, the country has achieved a measure of political stability, although the security situation remains fragile.
The Government of Niger is pursuing an economic and social development plan, which also underpins the activities of German international cooperation. In a bilateral agreement, Germany and Niger have committed themselves to carry out joint programmes in three sectors, also with the cooperation of KfW Development Bank:
- rural development, productive agriculture and food security
- decentralisation and good governance
- basic education.
In addition, GIZ is providing advisory support to the Niger Basin Authority (Autorité du Bassin du Niger – ABN), the Ministry of National Planning, and the national Food Security Authority. GIZ’s Civil Peace Service programme is promoting the peaceful use of cross-border resources by nomadic pastoralists. And a programme of support for national police structures in Niger aims to improve security at its borders, thereby reinforcing the national security strategy. This is complemented by an African Union project for border management.
In just a short time, Niger has become a central transit land for migrants travelling from West Africa to North Africa and Europe. Every year, about 130,000 migrants cross Niger on their journey north. A joint project financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the European Union, titled Management of Migration Challenges in Niger, is currently in preparation. This is mainly intended to provide capacity development measures and additional infrastructure in order to strengthen the efforts of local authorities along the migration routes to cope with the challenges related to migration.
Projects and Programmes
Security, reconstruction and peace
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