Economic and Social Development: Agreement Between the Republic Niger Government and the ORA
1995 PEACE AGREEMENT
Section V. Economic, Social and Cultural Development
Within the framework of the application of Clause 8 of the present Agreement, the Government will take all necessary measures, in the fields foreseen by the law, in order to provide the “collectivités territoriales” with the free managing of their affaires in the activities of economic, social and cultural development of regional or local interest.
In order to allow the freely consented return and the reinsertion of displaced
persons, the Government, together with the ORA, encourages friendly countries and
international humanitarian organisations concerned to establish on one hand reception and
direction points, where the stay will be as brief as possible, and on the other hand reinsertion sites in which adequate social and economic activities will be developed.
In order to reinforce and to enlarge to the zone affected by the conflict activities already undertaken within the framework of urgency assistance concerning food,
health and schooling foreseen in the Peace Agreement of Ouagadougou, October 9 1994, the Government, together with the ORA and concerned populations, engages to establish, on the basis of available statistics on displaced persons and of those already at home, the real needs of urgent help to be introduced in a global programme. This programme will be submitted by the Government to donors at a timely moment.
Within the framework of the programme of social insertion of the demobilized elements of the ORA, the Government will take steps in view of their recruitment in the projects of high intensity of labour in the zone affected by the conflict.
Without effect on the stipulations of Clause 8 of the present Agreement, the Government engages to take all necessary steps in order to continue and accelerate the efforts of investment in the pastoral zone through the use of new strategies of development aiming at:
A. Within the field of rural development
A policy of a profitable breeding taking into account:
- animal health
- reconstruction of the live stock
- commercialisation of the cattle and products derived from breeding
- introduction of transformation and conservation of products
- better managing of the pasture land
- adjustment of water-holes and multiplication of pastoral wells
- constitution of cereal banks.
A development of the agricultural potentialities contained in the regions guaranteeing their
exploitation the whole year around and a local transformation of the products by:
- technical assistance given to the farmers
- support of help to the “collectivités”
- commercialisation of agricultural products
- combating noxious insects
- creation of units of transformation and conservation of agricultural products
- exploiting of underground water sources
- strengthening of market gardening potentialities through the use of hydro-agricultural
B. Within the field of mining and industries
The mines will remain a national treasure the benefits of which should make possible the
development of all the regions. Therefore it is necessary to:
- diversify the mining production.
- develop the local raw material through industrialization.
- favour the development of the regional economy through the establishment for the whole
industrial and mining sector of measures encouraging the creation of jobs in favour of the
local population which will benefit from a priority in recruitment.
- transfer to “collectivités territoriales” one part of national resources generated by the mining and industrial exploitation. The rate and the forms of this transfer of resources will be determined by the law on decentralisation.
C. Within the field of social and cultural development
- rehabilitation of already existing infrastructures
- reconstruction and equipment of new health centres
- multiplication of drugstores and medicine stocks
- staff training
- establishing of mobile health teams in the nomad zones
- adapt the school programmes to social and cultural realities of the regions
- promote national languages and writing, especially Tamachek and Tifinar - consider creating institutions of higher education in the regions in the North
- rehabilitate, construct and multiply schools and school canteens.
- train the teaching staff
- employ, as far as possible, in the regions, a teaching staff coming from these regions in order to guarantee a better consciousness raising among the population on educational problems in order to solve the problems inherent in school recruitment.
- increase the rate of schooling.
- creation of cultural centres and regional museums promoting the image of culture, history
and oral traditions
- multiplying of cultural and sportive exchanges between regions and with other countries
D. In the field of service
1. Transports and communications
- maintenance, management and construction of roads, airstrips, airports, bus terminals
- opening and development of air traffic services in order to increase accessibility of isolated regions
- relaxation of police controls and formalities
- creation, if possible, of regional radio and television stations broadcasting in national
languages and relaying the main national programmes
- establishment of means of communication SSB (Single Sideband Modulation) in the most
2. Tourism, Hotel trade and Handicraft
- consider the suppression of visas for people coming from the European Union
- set up direct charter flights
- relaxing the formalities of reception and circulation of persons
- rehabilitate and promote hotels units
- take complementary measures for the boosting of the sectors of tourism, hotel trade and
handicraft generating proceeds, foreign currency and jobs.
3. Public administration
Eager to have an active participation of all the components of the Nigerien population in the running of the State affairs and in the framework of consolidation and peace, the Government engages to integrate demobilized elements from the ORA at all levels of the Public administration according to the criteria of competence and to the needs of the State.
The same thing will be valid for political functions.
E. The list of actions enumerated above is not restrictive.
The 1995 peace agreement covers issues related to social and economic development. Notwithstanding such provisions, Niger remained in the grip of an economic and social crisis without precedent in its history. The economy continued to decline as it has done regularly since the 1980s. The state coffers were empty and Niger remained one of the poorest countries in the world.1 The country's economy was largely dependent on the rural sector, which employed 80% of the active population.
Irrigated land remained 320 sq km (1989 estimate). “The economy is centered on subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, and re-export trade, and increasingly less on uranium, its major export throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Uranium revenues dropped by almost 50% between 1983 and 1990 with the end of the uranium boom. Terms of trade with Nigeria, Niger's largest regional trade partner, have improved dramatically since the 50% devaluation of the African franc in January 1994; this devaluation boosted exports of livestock, peas, onions, and the products of Niger's small cotton industry. The government relies on bilateral and multilateral aid for operating expenses and public investment and is strongly induced to adhere to structural adjustment programs designed by the IMF and the World Bank.”2
No substantive socio-economic reforms took place as agreed in the peace agreement.
No substantive socio-economic reforms took place. However, “terms of trade with Nigeria, Niger's largest regional trade partner, have improved dramatically since the 50% devaluation of the African franc in January 1994; this devaluation boosted exports of livestock, peas, onions, and the products of Niger's small cotton industry. The government relies on bilateral and multilateral aid for operating expenses and public investment and is strongly induced to adhere to structural adjustment programs designed by the IMF and the World Bank. The US terminated bilateral assistance to Niger after the coup of 1996. Other donors have reduced their aid.” Irrigated land increased to 660 sq km (1993 est.).3
- 3. "CIA Factbook, Niger," 1997.
No substantive socio-economic reforms took place. “The government relied on bilateral and multilateral aid for operating expenses and public investment and is strongly induced to adhere to structural adjustment programs designed by the IMF and the World Bank.”4 Industrial development was handicapped by the shortage of capital and skilled labor and by the country's weak infrastructure.5
No substantive socio-economic reform took place as agreed in the peace agreement. As Niger Prime Minister said, “80 per cent of Niger is illiterate, 63 per cent live below official poverty level, life expectancy is 47. Moreover, the financial crisis that has severely crippled Niger's economic development resulted in a further reduction in public investments, thus depriving most people of basic social services.”6
It was reported that “the decentralization and development of Tuareg regions as demanded by the rebels, has not yet started, fueling the frustration of people in the area, Akotey said. … However, the Tuareg leaders are aware of the complexity of the problem and the fragile nature of the peace process.” "The Niger state as a whole is fragile. The implementation of the agreements implies enormous financial means which Niger does not have," Akotey noted, adding that "there is still a threat hovering over the peace agreements."7
No substantive socio-economic reform took place.
Some improvement in economic and social development was recorded in 2001. The national economy steadily improved after 10 years of political, social and economic instability. The World Bank noted positive development in overall education sector.8
Niger's recent eligibility to the enhanced HIPC initiative (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) would enable the country to alleviate its debt burden, reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development. The World Bank also approved $70 million loan, which would support the implementation of major social and structural reforms in order to improve basic public services and promote more sustainable programs conducive for economic growth.9
The Niger economy continued to see sustained economic growth. The government of Niger successfully enacted the decentralization law, which empowered local entities on issues related to local governance. This can be taken as a step toward socio-economic development.
Notwithstanding sustained economic growth, as well as many reform initiatives, including decentralization, the level of socio-economic development remained slow in year 2003. “Nearly two thirds of the people did not have sufficient income for their basic needs, including food, clothing, clean water and shelter. It is estimated that 42-50 percent live on about US $124 a year. The rest live on $71-$89. Those who have jobs are mainly employed by the government which has about 40,000 civil servants. However they earn an average of US $100 a month. With this meager salary, they cater to 10-15 extended family members each, a government official told IRIN”.
The UNDP had been working closely with the government and has managed since 2000, to assist thousands of farmers, mainly women to start and manage vegetable gardens. Thousands of others were trained on livestock care. The program improved food security through the reinforcement of population capacity for self-help and self-management of community development.10
- 10. "Niger; Urgent Need to Confront Widespread Poverty," Africa News, October 2, 2003.
Social and economic development continued to be an issue in Niger, notwithstanding sustained growth from uranium mining. According to Ibrahim, an economist at the World Bank in Niamy, "Leaders were not just banking on uranium. In their speeches, agriculture and livestock were presented as the lifeblood of Niger's economy. Unfortunately, there has never been clear economic policy on these two sectors".
“According to the United Nations Development Program, 63 percent of Niger's citizens lived below the poverty line of a dollar a day. Food insecurity and a lack of proper housing pose acute problems. In response to this situation, government - in association with donors - adopted a poverty reduction strategy in January 2002. The program aimed to encourage sustainable economic growth through developing agriculture and other sectors, and to ensure that basic social services were provided to the population. It also promoted good governance. The strategy also included initiatives for building 1,000 new classrooms, 1,000 clinics and several dams and water points. The initiative also deals with job creation.”11
The northern population felt a sense of frustration, which stemmed from their political, economic and social marginalization. They complained there was not “much investment in development, in infrastructure, whereas it is in their area that uranium is produced."12
2005: “The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved an International Development Association (IDA) financing of US$40 million to support the implementation of the economic reform program during 2005-2006 and the Poverty Reduction Strategy in Niger. The Public Expenditure Reform Financing (PERF) will help deepen the reforms in public expenditure management, increase the impact on the poor of public spending in key priority areas, including public service delivery in education and health, and investments for agricultural growth and rural development”.
“Economic management performance as well as social indicators improved substantially since 2000 in Niger. Together with good economic growth prospects, the PERF is expected to have a significant and sustainable impact on governance and poverty reduction.”13
In 2005, the government also came up with an economic assistance plan to reintegrate the Tuareg rebel combatants into socio-economic life with $300 grants to each combatant in the form of micro-loans for projects in animal husbandry, the craft industry and vegetable gardening.14
Overall, while still ranking as the world’s poorest country, Niger achieved some remarkable success in terms of economic and social development. "Farmers had diversified their revenues and are now in control of their financial situation," said Germaine Ibro, an IRAN researcher who surveyed the economic and social impact of the rehabilitation process in the Tahoua and Zinder regions. Women benefited a lot from the rehabilitation project. It was reported that women could spend more time developing crops, they had more money, and then they could attend to other businesses such as livestock and forestry. This means their children could go to school.15
- 11. "Niger; Fight Against Poverty Gets Mixed Reviews," Africa News, August 3, 2004.
- 12. "Niger; Social Issues Take Centre Stage Ahead of Presidential Poll," Africa News, November 12, 2004.
- 13. "Niger; World Bank Supports Economic Reforms in Niger," Africa News, May 24, 2005.
- 14. "Niger; Tuareg Ex-Combatants to Get Promised Assistance a Decade After Peace Accord," Africa News, October 14, 2005; “Niger (PCPAA, 2006 – 2007),” School for a Culture of Peace, 2008, accessed August 1, 2010, http://escolapau.uab.cat/img/programas/desarme/mapa/niger08i.pdf.
- 15. "Niger; Tide Turning On Desertification," Africa News, October 11, 2006.