The FREXUS project, together with Water, Peace and Security Partnership (WPS Partnership), Deltares, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), USAID and UNDP/Climate Security Mechanism supported the Government of Niger in the UN 2023 Water Conference side event titled “Dealing with climate, water and peace: how participatory system analysis supported conflict resolution at local level. Lessons from Niger".
The event was held on March 23rd at the African Union Permanent representation in New York bringing together practitioners, government representatives, international organizations, and financial institutions to showcase how inclusive and system-based approaches, specifically participatory systems analysis, has led to successful results in the region of Dosso in Niger.
Natural resource management and security challenges in the Dosso Region.
In this session, the explored participatory and system-based approaches tackled the natural resource challenges that Sahelian region, and more particularly the Dosso region in Niger, are experiencing. The Niger context is characterized by high agricultural challenges due to demographic growth and the existence of transhumance corridors that attract important number of herders. With the degradation of the limited rural areas, there is a need for farmers to extend agricultural lands. This situation is exacerbated by a high rainfall variability, weak implementation of climate change adaptation strategies -increasing vulnerabilities- and a lack of appropriate legal framework of application among many other factors. All these aspects interact in a complex way with socio-cultural perceptions, and it creates a constant situation of conflicts between farmers and herders.
The deputy General Secretary of the Ministry of Hydraulic and Sanitation of Niger, M. Awali Rabo, expressed how important is for the Government of Niger, to attach climate security issues. Specifically, the challenges related to natural resource management and conflicts. As he stated: "The participatory approach that will be discussed in this session represents a valuable tool to scaffold an inclusive natural resources governance framework for the prevention of conflicts in a context of climate change.”
System analysis implemented by the Frexus project in Niger
The representative of the Water, Peace and Security Partnership, Ms Audrey Legat from Delatres, presented the approach for the system analysis implemented by the FREXUS project in Niger. When designing solutions in fragile contexts, it is important consider the interrelationships between different realities in order to avoid solutions that could create new problems. The presentation included a brief interactive exercise to show the participants how the methodology of the Causal Loop Diagram is working. Eventually Ms. Legat reflected the process results including the development of four action plans for a positive conflict transformation and the strengthening of social cohesion around rural areas. The combination of a local tool and the engagement of the dialogues enabled the creation of a pastoral pumping station. This performance is a noteworthy achievement since the station has been blocked for almost a decade due to persistent conflict between farmers and headers.
Daniel Abrahams -Advisor Climate and Conflict in the Center for Violence Prevention at USAID- also showcased the agency’s approach to address the climate and security risks in Niger through the USAID RISE II project. By making more resilient social and ecological systems, the project is enhancing communes’ self-reliance. The learned lessons of implementing the USAID TerresEauVie Interventions established a significant foundation towards sustainable and peaceful natural resources management.
Panel Discussion and Lessons Learned
During the panel discussion Mr. Chaibou Tankari (Niger), Technical Advisor for the Minister of Hydraulics and sanitation of Niger reflected the current challenges of the natural resources management in the context of climate change in Niger. He also provided useful insights on the upscales of the local decision-making processes related with the prevention of natural resources management conflicts, while learning from good practices such as the FREXUS project.
In her intervention, Catherine Wong (CSM) -Policy specialist in climate and security risk and technical lead on climate and security under UNDP’s Global Policy Network- talked about the importance of participatory systems analysis as resourceful pathways to understand the complex climate security risks links and how such approach can add value to integrate climate security risks for sustainable development. Additionally, Mr. Antoine Saintraint, from the European Union, highlighted the importance of local communities for an appropriate integration of the water resources management. The involvement of the cross-sectoral nature of water and the role of the river basin organization is essential to benefit the communities.
Mr. Saintraint reflected on the ‘subsidiarity principle’ that decisions must be made at the lowest level even though it means to scale the different levels. Water is ‘coming back as priority of the European Union’. Therefore, the Team Europe Initiative launched a new important budget for water projects.
Ms. Fanni Zentai (GIZ), highlighted the approaches of the FREXUS project. The dialogue and the common understanding allowed the finding of new entry points which led to concrete measures in communities, such as the decision to install a pumping station in order to improve the headers’ livelihood. In every project, it is critical to understand the situation on the ground, jointly developing plans and implementing measures. Inclusive and participatory approaches also strengthen local communities to shape the sustainable development process so that they can address resources-related challenges themselves. The FREXUS project also shows the added value of the cross sectoral approach as a way for long lasting sustainable solutions.
Concluding remarks and further steps
In the last part of the session, the audience was invited to share remarks and questions. The representatives of the World Food Program and of the Zambia Water Authority shared their reflections and thanked the organizers for the organisation of the interactive session. A satisfactory concluding thought was provided by the panel members with a clear interest on developing further collaborations between all the partners and actors involved on the climate security risks in Niger.
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- Frexus Project // Equipment handover ceremony to community radios in Mali and Chad