The overall vision for Denmark’s engagement in Niger is to support the government and people of Niger in order to maintain peace and stability, re-enforce democratic values and provide the opportunity for the people to embark on a long term effort to improve living conditions
Photo: Jonathan Bjerg Møller/CARE
Niger faces tremendous challenges and the country policy is informed by Denmark’s commitment to supporting Niger in remaining peaceful and stable and making a constructive contribution to the development of a troubled region.
Niger faces very serious challenges – a hostile climate, deep poverty and associated social tension aggravated by very high population growth, a large and very sparsely populated landmass, a fragile economy and a very young democracy which is being threatened by incursion of violent extremism from neighbouring countries. To this should be added that Niger is a key transit country for migration flows to Europe. Despite these challenges the government of Niger has managed in recent years to establish a fairly stable society and achieved some degree of economic development partly but not exclusively based on exploitation of mineral resources.
Being the largest and the most populous country of the Sahel region and acting as geopolitical buffer between Sahara and Nigeria, peace and stability in Niger plays a paramount role for the stability in the whole region. A breakdown of the social and political order could have a major destabilising effect on the region. The EU is acknowledging that Niger plays an important role in handling irregular migration, and Niger thus constitutes an essential partner in the EU´s cooperation with African partners on migration. Also the government of Niger is acutely aware of its role as a transit country and has – as the first country in the Sahel-region – adopted legislation strengthening prosecution of human traffickers and describing migrants as victims of human rights violations. However, the implementation is hampered by weak capacity both at government and local level as well as socio-economic challenges. Tackling the key challenges of irregular migration through Niger should be based on a comprehensive approach encompassing political dialogue, long-term development assistance, humanitarian assistance and regional stabilisation activities. It is therefore essential for Niger that Denmark supports its efforts to address these key challenges.
Considering the overall vision for Denmark’s engagement in Niger the main objectives for Denmark will first and foremost be to strengthen stability and peace in Niger and the region, enhance access to basic rights and reduce extreme poverty by a specific focus on resilience. Denmark will thereby address key elements for the development of Niger related to stability, migration and poverty reduction.
The Danish cooperation with Niger goes back to 1974. Though limited in financial terms (approximately 50 mio. DKK per year) Denmark has achieved significant results and has played an important role in key areas within democracy and human rights, water supply and agriculture. Denmark is seen as a reputable and reliable partner. The long standing development cooperation has resulted in a solid and trustworthy partnership between the two countries. It is seen by Niger as important that Denmark as one of the few bilateral donors in the country continues its engagement to address the causes of poverty and conflicts.
The objective of this policy paper is to establish the strategic framework for Denmark’s engagement in Niger over the coming five years (2016–2020). The Danish engagement will build on results obtained so far and focus on areas where Denmark has comparative advantages. The future engagement will also take into consideration that there is no longer a Danish presence in Niger, thus it must be expected that delegated partnerships and cooperation with multilateral organisation will play a key role in implementation of the activities. The political dialogue with Niger will continue mainly through EU cooperation.
Due to the uncertainties associated with the very complicated situation in key areas such as security and democracy that might impact negatively on Niger’s development it will be of paramount importance to have a flexible strategy that can be adapted to major and possibly unexpected events.