Ranked 187th out of 187 countries on the Human Development Index, Niger is the world’s poorest country.  It is almost four times the size of the UK or slightly more than twice the size of California. The high variability in the country’s rainfall patterns make the population, 80% of whose livelihoods depend on agriculture and livestock-based activities, extremely vulnerable to climate-related hazards. Droughts and floods and soil erosion and degradation drive persistent economic and food insecurity and endemic poverty.

To tackle these challenges, Niger’s strategy for climate resilient growth and poverty reduction targets investments at the intersection of climate-related risks, food security, and sustainable land and water management.  And the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience (PPCR) – a $1.2 billion funding window of the Climate Investment Funds – is playing its part.

Photo: Stephan Gladieu / World Bank

Niger has been part of the PPCR family since its inception in 2008. Niger has received total funding of $110 million to support its climate resilience efforts. PPCR’s work in the country is strongly aligned with the government’s aims of integrating climate resilience into national and local government planning and budgeting mechanisms. By implementing climate resilient land and water management programs, Niger can reduce the rural population’s vulnerability to climate change and improve the quality and accessibility of weather and climate information.

In November 2016, at the UN Climate Conference (COP22) in Morocco, the government of Niger convened a panel discussion to highlight the results and lessons of the country’s PPCR work. Officials from the Ministry of Environment and the Inter-State Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel, explained the step-by-step process to implement an effective partnership and climate-resilient strategic investment program.

A highlight in the presentation was the Community Action Program for Climate Resilience (CAPCR), which is targeting food security. The program helps communities by providing water pumps to boost vegetable production. There’s also cash for food schemes for the most vulnerable people, mostly widows and young children. It’s also drawing on locally-based indigenous techniques to counter the area of drylands with ‘demi-lunes,’ a half-moon shaped area on the ground that helps to restore ecosystems through systematically trapping moisture.  The community-based efforts underpinning the CAPCR underpin the government’s flagship program ‘Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens’ – an ambitious effort to secure much needed food security in the country.

Working with the African Development Bank, the PPCR is supporting the Water Resources Mobilization and Development Project. This helps improve the resilience of rural communities dependent on rain-fed farming through sustainable water resources, soil management and the adoption of resilient techniques and technologies. The project has so far improved the lives of more than 700,000 people, half of them women. To date, up to 1,000 farmers have been trained in climate resilient agricultural technologies and practices. Up to 250 have accessed credit.

Photo: World Bank

The CIF and AfDB-funded climate resilience program is supporting rural communities to improve the quality and accessibility of climate and weather information.  It will directly benefit 150,000 producers across Niger’s 235 districts; and 1,500 producers will receive agro-meteorological support.  This will enable smallholder farmers to make informed decisions, better manage risk and adapt to climate change. 

There is an old Nigerien proverb which says “before starting to sing, the young bird will listen to the song of the old.  As one of the earliest members of the PPCR, Niger had valuable lessons to share with a standing-room-only audience at COP22.

Highlighting its results, the government made a call for continued support for its adaptation efforts. “Many investments will be in made in Niger’s climate resilience in the coming years – all in all about $9 billion,” said Yahaya Nazoumo, focal point for PPCR in Niger. “Most of the funding will come from domestic resources. But more financing is necessary and we are calling upon our international partners to continue to support us in our fight against climate change.”