Rome — The International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD) today announced a new project that will boost support for about 210,000 poor rural households in Niger that are vulnerable to climate shocks and food insecurity.
In Niger, most people live in rural areas and depend on small-scale family farming and livestock production for their subsistence. In fact, 85 per cent of the active population are employed in this kind of agriculture, which accounts for 43.4 per cent of GDP. Improving small-scale agricultural production and productivity so that farmers can move from subsistence to commercialization is vital to reducing poverty and improving food and nutrition security in rural areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken against it have added new dimensions to the situation. With the existing vulnerabilities in the country, the crisis poses a genuine threat to livelihoods, in particular of small-scale farmers, and the adverse effects are expected to linger on unless there is concrete investment in the agriculture sector.
"PRECIS comes at the right time," said Jakob Tuborgh, Country Director for Niger. "The COVID-19 pandemic is posing a threat to the Government's ambitious poverty reduction targets; this new project will address the major issues of food and nutrition insecurity in Niger, and will create jobs for young rural people while also contributing to several Sustainable Development Goals."
The financing agreement for the Project to Strengthen Resilience of Rural Communities to Food and Nutrition Insecurity (PRECIS) was signed by correspondence by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD, and Aïchatou Boulama Kané, Minister of Planning and Mamadou Diop, Minister of Finance of the Republic of Niger.
This €172.1 million project will particularly target young people and women who are especially vulnerable to climate and other shocks. It aims to help them to access promising rural employment, increase their incomes and build their resilience. The project will have crosscutting impact on the Sustainable Development Goals, starting with SDGs 1 and 2 (no poverty, no hunger), but also gender equality and women's empowerment and clean water and sanitation (SDGs 5 and 6).
PRECIS will promote food crops like maize, millet, rice and sorghum and develop market gardening, poultry and small livestock husbandry. To mitigate the effects of desertification and climate change, the project will also promote technologies for sustainable water and land resource management. It will rehabilitate and construct market infrastructure to increase access so that producers can sell their products.
The financing includes a €56.7 million loan and €21 million grant from IFAD. The Government of Niger is providing €26.3 million, with a further €4.9 million contributed by beneficiaries themselves. Arrangements for additional co-financing of approximately €63 million from other development partners are currently being finalised. The project will be implemented in Dosso, Maradi, Tahoua and Zinder regions and will reach 186 municipalities.
PRECIS will build the capacity of small-scale farmers and their organizations in production, storing and processing of perishable products, and feeding, good nutrition and hygiene practices. It is hoped that these measure will ensure food availability during the "hungry season".
The project will promote vocational training and rural entrepreneurship skills for young people and help create jobs for in the agropastoral sector. It will aim to reach transhumant pastoralists - Tuareg nomads - and also involve persons with disabilities in its activities.
Particular attention will be placed on literacy activities and interactive training on gender issues and women's leadership. The project will also encourage rural financial institutions to develop products that meet the needs of the small-scale farmers.
Since 1980, IFAD has invested $350.7 million in 14 rural development programmes and projects in Niger worth a total of almost $746.1 million. These projects have directly benefited 1,252,922 rural households.