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Country Brief

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Niger: Country Brief

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world prone to political instability and exogenous shocks notably droughts causing chronic food insecurity. It is a large landlocked, mostly desert country with a population of about 16 million people growing at one of the fastest rate in the world (3.3% per annum).  It ranked 167th out of 169 countries on UNDP’s Human Development Index in 2010, with a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Parity Purchasing Power (PPP) terms of US$680, one of the lowest also in Africa.

Over the past two decades, Niger’s social indicators have improved significantly. Gross primary school enrolment rate increased from about 29% in the early 1990s to 76% in 2011 and the ratio of girls to boys in primary schools also increased from 25 to 40% during the same period, and further improvements are expected. The mortality rate for children under five-years-old has decreased from 320 to 130 per thousand between 1990 and 2010. Prevalence of HIV/AIDS has remained at 0.7%, which is the one of lowest in the Sub- Saharan Africa.

Political Context

Its internal political situation had been relatively stable since 2000. However in 2009, efforts by then President Tandja to circumvent a two-term limit resulted in a severe political crisis that led to a coup d’état by a military junta in February 2010. The junta committed to a one-year transition period during which a new constitution was adopted in November 2010 followed by a series of local, legislative, and presidential elections that was to lead to the reinstatement of democratically governing institutions in April 2011.

The 2009 political crisis created a general paralysis that prompted donors to suspend their development assistance to Niger. The military coup d’état in February 2010 eventually triggered The World Bank’s policy on dealing with de facto government, which caused a temporary suspension of the Bank’s operations in Niger. A severe food crisis also erupted in 2010 as a result of a poor harvest, which was followed by unpredicted flooding that affected more than three million vulnerable people in urban and rural areas.

The 2011 Libyan crisis caused the disruption of trade and investment with Libya, but most importantly, posed unprecedented security and economic challenges to Niger with the wide dissemination of arms in the Sahel and the return of over 240,000 Nigeriens from Cote d’Ivoire and Libya including many ex-combatants. To worsen an already complicated situation 2011 harvest also resulted in 700,000 t/m cereal deficit prompting 20% of the population in food insecurity again in 2012.

Economic Overview

The International Development Association (IDA) has supported Niger’s efforts to improve economic management, public sector performance, economic growth, infrastructure, and core basic service delivery in energy, water, basic education, and health. 

The 2008-2011 Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) presented to the World Bank Board on May 29, 2008 was built around two pillars; accelerating sustained growth that is equitably shared; and increasing access to basic services and developing human capital. It was also built on two cross cutting issues; demographics and good governance.

It is the first results-based CPS for Niger and is well aligned with Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers-II (PRSP-II) – despite a different clustering around a smaller number of pillars. The CPS recognizes a series of risks including insecurity, political instability, climate and vulnerability to exogenous shocks. Using a selected mix of financing instruments and a targeted program of Analytical and Advisory Activities (AAA), the CPS seeks continuity with the ongoing reform programs, including by using a programmatic approach around three development policy operations (DPOs).

It also promoted selectivity by focusing interventions on selected PRSP themes (where the Bank has the greatest comparative advantage, and where the Bank can complement or leverage efforts by donors) and left other aspects of the PRSP agenda aside. This included stand-alone operations in the social sectors and in mining and energy. Budget support and a proposed Sources of Growth operation were expected to cover, among other things, mining and energy investments and/or reforms.

During the 2009 political crisis and post-coup when the World Bank’s policy on dealing with de facto government’s was triggered, the Bank reacted swiftly to the succession of shocks that Niger faced and responded with commendable flexibility to the country’s needs. Recognizing that the World Bank operations slowed down during the general political stalemate and the suspension imposed by the policy on de facto government, the Bank management led the primary assessment mission in April 2010 to engage with the new military regime.

The assessment was relatively positive and authorized the resumption of the disbursement for the active portfolio and the preparation of new lending for which submission to Board would be subject to the Bank management’s waiver on case by case basis. In November 2010, the Bank appointed a Country Manager to manage the country dialogue, monitor the transition and prepare the full re-engagement. Subsequently, waivers were granted to secure project preparation advances for new lending and deliver a US$15m project under the Global Food Crisis Response Program (GFRP) facility to mitigate the impacts of 2010 food and flooding crises. The Bank’s move contributed to leverage other donors to gradually re-engage with the military regime both on development and humanitarian challenges. Upon the swearing-in of the newly-elected democratic government in April 2011, full re-engagement resumed. This paved the way for delivery of the remaining five investment lending operations, and a DPO in a total amount of US$280m planned under the current CPS before the end of FY11.

 

The current International Development Association (IDA) portfolio of about US$454 million and complemented by US$32 million Trust Funds is a mix of  investments lending and Development Policy Operations (DPO) to support the public sector (33%), urban and water (29%), rural development (22%), education and health (nine percent) and transport (seven percent). FY12 pipeline includes a supplemental and development policy operations (DPO) series, CAP Climate Resilience (US$63m), Source of Growth project ($50m), and Kandaji Growth Program ($153m). The draft CPS Completion Report for the period up to December 2011 suggests that both the design and implementation of the 2008-11 Country Partnership Strategy are satisfactory considering the very challenging context endured under the period and the adequate responsiveness demonstrated by the Bank.

 

 

With the support of International Development Association (IDA) credits and grants, the Niger government has made important strides on a number of core sector indicators:

  • Agriculture and rural development: Through an array of analysis and projects, that helped Niger cope with the chronic food crises and strengthen its resilience against extreme vulnerability and the impacts of climate change.
  • Public sector management and good governance: With public financial management, procurement reforms, and the alignment with public expenditures with the country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP). 
  • Roads, Water and Sanitation and Urban Infrastructures: Between 2009 and 2012, IDA is supporting the rehabilitation of about 1,056 kilometers of selected unpaved sections of the national road network, 8,125 people are provided access to all-season roads in Maradi and Dosso, 6,250 people are provided access to improved drainage and 19,000 pupils are provided with improved security and hygiene in schools.
  • Education: Through an EFA/FTI Catalytic Fund Grant to increase access through delivery of 314 classrooms, 116 latrines and 913,226 textbooks for pupils and teachers.
  • Health. IDA has been the single largest source of funding and the Bank has also supported the implementation of the Niger Health Development Plan (2006-2010) through a Sector-Wide Approach (SWAp) with four donors.
  • Gender and Demographic Development: The contraceptive prevalence rate seems to have at least tripled in the past four years, from four percent to 12% (modern methods) and policy-makers are more and more gender-sensitive.
  • Social Protection: With the support of a US$70 million IDA project approved in FY11, the government of Niger has started the development of the safety net system and is implementing cash transfers and cash for work programs.
  • Extractive Industries: With the Bank’s support, Niger reached Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative-compliant (EITI) status in March 2011.
  • Response to exogenous shocks: IDA provided a supplemental US$15 million budget support. In addition four existing Bank-financed projects are retrofitted to provide direct reintegration assistance to the repatriates from Cote d’Ivoire, Libya and Nigeria under a Rapid Response Compact.
  • Advisory and Knowledge Service: In 2011, the Bank provided just-in-time 14 sets of sector policy.

The Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) co-chair the Development Assistance Group (DAG), the main forum for donor coordination in Niger, which includes 15 bilateral and multilateral agencies notably International Monetary Fund (IMF), L'Agence Française de Développement (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Union (EU), USAID, Swiss Cooperation, Spanish Cooperation, GIZ and United Nations specialized agencies.

Under DAG, efforts are underway to accelerate progress with the implementation of commitments under the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. Much of the collective effort is focused on increasing harmonization through initiatives that promote dialogue or support programs in critical sectors of Niger’s development agenda notably food security, governance and macro-economic stability and human development.

Key donors supported the preparation of sector strategies in education, health, rural development and transport, and co-financed the multi-year investment programs in health and education. Coordinated actions are also underway to assist the government to develop its next Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.

The Bank works closely with the IMF on supporting government in its pursuit of macro-economic and fiscal stability and the design and implementation of structural reforms to foster pro-poor economic growth.  International Development Association (IDA) also coordinates its budget support with that of other donors, including the EU, AfDB, and AFD through joint-missions and a harmonized framework. Under the Kandadji Program, the Bank helped leverage US$180 million at Vienna Roundtable from AFD, the International Development Bank (IDB), to finance Phase II investments and also mobilize additional resources for Phase III.

Last updated November 2012




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