"Here in Niger, all challenges are a priority"
In the heart of the Sahel region, Niger commits to the appropriation of the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus approach to achieve integrated development. Niger, one of the Sahel-enclaved countries, currently faces the severe consequences of climate hazards (drought and food insecurity) despite its enormous renewable energy potential and its resilience to climate change. With the objective of accompanying the country in its efforts, civil society, the national focal structures of the Niger Basin Authority (NBA), government instances and technical and financial partners have engaged in deep reflections to identify the real stakes, challenges and potential synergies between food security and poverty reduction in the related sectors: water, energy, agriculture and environment.
To support these actions, the National Coordination of Natural Resource Users in the Niger Basin (CNU-BN/Niger), with the technical support of the Nexus project at NBA and the financial support of the German Cooperation Agency and the European Union, organised a national workshop on the appropriation of the Water-Energy-Food Security Nexus approach, on June 28th and 29th, 2018 at the Soluxe Hotel in Niamey. Participants included over 50 decision makers working in sectors akin with the topic, as well as stakeholders involved in national governmental services joining from a variety of regions in the country (Niamey, Tillabéry, Tahoua, Dosso and Maradi).
«These two days have been a clear success in terms of the enrichment of the participants’ professional network and of the understanding of the Water-Energy-Food security Nexus approach» declared the representative of the Maradi region. «In Niger we have several development challenges to overcome, and each one of them is a priority. The nexus approach makes it possible to define actions that can simultaneously touch upon these different priorities» declared another participant.
During their respective interventions at the workshop’s opening, the Ministry of Water, the Nexus focal point of the NBA and the president of the Basin Users’ Coordination highlighted the potential of the basin (the third largest on the African continent) to reduce recurring food security risks; the operational plan of the NBA with its 350 foreseen actions (3,111 billion dollars between 2016 and 2024) and the contribution of the Nexus dialogue within the framework of the struggle undertaken by the government of Niger to advance towards water, energy and food security, as well as towards environmental conservation.
During group work, participants translated the Nexus approach into project planning in the national portion of the basin. Key actions to pursue were identified in the realms of natural resource usage efficiency, ecosystem preservation, reduction or suppression of negative repercussions on certain sectors, as well as in best practice sharing (awareness-raising) and stakeholder capacity reinforcement.
«We believe that the WEF Nexus approach is an effective framework for the reinforcement of technical capacities and methodological knowledge, through experience-sharing among a variety of actors», noted the President of the National Coordination of Users, the ex-congressman Ibrahim Beidou.
Several case studies were furthermore recalled, notably that of the Kandadji multipurpose dam, currently under construction in Niger. Exchanges around this project focused on the valorisation of the river valley (drinking water and electricity provision for the population), agricultural irrigation, displacement or reinstallation of population and the related impacts, revenue-generating activities, and in a more general manner, poverty reduction.
On behalf of the National Coordination of basin users, Miss Aïchatou Maigari, one of main the workshop organisers, stated: «The dissemination of the Nexus approach, the need to encourage a recurring dialogue, and the intensification of awareness-raising and training to reach more stakeholders, are fundamental if Niger wants to attain its development objectives».