The EU reinforces its support for development and security in Niger
BRUSSELS, Kingdom of Belgium, November 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Food security, the social sectors, road infrastructure and domestic security and stability will be the four sectors on which EU development aid to Niger will focus for the period 2014-2020. The announcement was made by Andris Piebalgs, the EU Commissioner for Development, during his visit today (6 November) to Niamey (Niger). €542 million will be granted to the country over the next seven years, subject to final approval by the Council and the European Parliament.
This visit to Niger is part of the joint regional mission to Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad made by the Commissioner from 5 to 7 November 2013 with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dlamini Zuma, the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, the President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, and the European Union Special Representative for the Sahel, Michel Reveyrand de Menthon.
European Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said: ‘The European Union’s actions in Niger reflect Niger’s priorities in the fields of governance, improving transport infrastructure between the different regions of the country, and support for the security of goods and persons, food security and sustainable and equitable growth.’
Commissioner Piebalgs’ visit will demonstrate the European Union’s commitment to the principles of coherence and coordination of aid in the framework of the strategies for the Sahel drawn up by the EU, the United Nations and the World Bank which underscore the importance of the link between security and development in the region.
During this visit, Commissioner Piebalgs will meet the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, who has confirmed that he will take part in the European Development Days on 26-27 November in Brussels. Mr Piebalgs will also sign four financing agreements and an addendum to an existing project totalling €181 million. These programmes directly address Niger’s multiple challenges, namely security, development and food security (more information in ‘Background’).
Niger faces multiple challenges affecting the whole of the Sahel-Saharan region: the continuing instability in Libya, Mali and Nigeria, the terrorist threat, and also the movement of weapons and trafficking of all kinds. To reinforce the EU’s commitment in the area of security, a civilian mission under the Common Security and Defence Policy (EUCAP SAHEL Niger) was launched in August 2012. This mission will help to strengthen the capacities of the Nigerien security forces and assist the country in addressing organised crime and terrorism more effectively.
Results of development aid to Niger
In Niger, over €100 million of budgetary support have been granted since 2008 to enhance the authorities’ capacity to provide social services. Between 2008 and 2012, primary school completion rates increased from 48% to 55.8%, and infant mortality was halved to 63 per 1000 in 2010. 600 km of roads have been or are being renovated, opening up certain regions for the delivery of healthcare and education as well as boosting trade.
EU support has contributed to overall improvements in health and education. For example, the halving of infant mortality to 63 per 1000 in 2010 places Niger on track to achieving the target of a two-thirds reduction in infant mortality by 2015 under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
New agreements signed during the Commissioner’s visit
The agreements concern financing of €181 million for the following projects:
For the Zinder-Magaria-Nigerian border road, €19.5 million to upgrade a dilapidated 111 km stretch of this route, which is important for trade in the region;
For rehabilitation of roads and tracks in the Agadez, Tahoua and Tillabéry regions, €44.5 million to upgrade 145 km of asphalted roads and 260 km of rural roads in these three Saharan regions of Niger;
For the Northern Niger Local Development Project, €25.6 million for stabilisation and local development. This goal will be achieved by strengthening the capacities of public and private players, improving food security through income from agricultural and pastoral activities, increasing the provision of social services delivering healthcare and, finally, offering guidance and support to young people who have received vocational and technical training in order to help them find employment or self-employment;
€85 million for budgetary support to increase health, education and vocational training indicators;
An addendum of €6.5 million to the Support Programme for Justice and the Rule of Law (PAJED-2) will contribute to security by strengthening the capacities to fight organised crime and modernising the intervention frameworks for priority policies.