Investing in the rural economy and human capital to achieve sustainable poverty reduction in Niger

NIAMEY, December 3, 2021 – A new report from the World Bank highlights a significant reduction in poverty in Niger between 2014 and 2019. During this period, the proportion of the population living in poverty decreased by 5.4 percentage points, falling to 40.8% in 2019. In addition, the poorest households benefited from more equitable growth. This progress is attributable to robust growth in the agricultural sector, which has reached an annual average of 7%, thanks to favorable weather conditions and the expansion of cropland.

The COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately undermined progress in the fight against poverty, pushing an additional 270,000 people into poverty and exacerbating gender inequalities. In addition, the catastrophic floods that affected virtually all regions in 2020 plunged Niger into a humanitarian crisis, resulting in high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.

The economic recovery in 2022 should, however, allow Niger to resume poverty reduction. “The Nigerien economy has demonstrated its resilience to a multitude of shocks, recording growth over several years, despite the difficult situation facing the country., “ noted Joëlle Dehasse, World Bank Country Manager for Niger. It is important to focus on transformative and sustainable interventions that promote real equity and create opportunities for all, so that poverty can be eradicated once and for all.

The report recommends the implementation of an ambitious set of reforms in agriculture and the rural economy, as well as the empowerment of women and girls. Sustainable poverty reduction in Niger requires sound investments in human capital, the agricultural sector and the rural economy, noted Johan A. Mistiaen, World Bank Practice Leader for Poverty and Equity in West and Central Africa. To be effective, these interventions must be accompanied by improvements in governance and the security situation.

Niger should also put in place a well-targeted and adaptive national social protection system in order to effectively limit the negative impact of shocks on households. “Appropriate social safety net programs can strengthen economic inclusion and resilience. These programs offer great potential in terms of protecting and promoting livelihoods,“added Aboudrahyme Savadogo, World Bank Economist in Global Practice Poverty and Equity.

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