Niger is a partner country of Belgian development cooperation. The partnership between both countries goes back to 1970. Together with France and Germany, Belgium is one of the main European donors of Niger.
Niger is 40 times larger than Belgium. The Sahara covers two thirds of the country’s surface. The 14 million inhabitants mainly live in the south of the country, at the Niger riverbanks.
During the last decade the country has witnessed repeated drought cycles, a strong advancement of the desert, a drop in the uranium prices and recurring political instability.
So many unfavourable factors make Niger one of the poorest countries in the world. 61% of the population lives in extreme poverty; national per capita income is below USD 200. Less than half the population (43%) has access to drinking water. Adult literacy is 29% (43% for men and 15% for women).
To improve the living conditions of the population the Government of Niger adopted a poverty reduction strategy in January 2002. In October 2007, the revision of this strategy resulted in the accelerated development and poverty reduction strategy, which is the framework of reference for the economic, financial and social policies of the country.
The main objective of this strategy is to achieve Millennium Development Goals, in particular reducing poverty by half by 2015.
2009-2012 Cooperation Programme
For 2009-2012 Belgium has allocated EUR 52 million to Niger.
Belgian governmental assistance focuses on two sectors:
- Rural development (livestock farming, food security and gender),
- Health care.
Rural development and health care are fields in which Belgium has a lot of experience. Moreover, Niger has developed specific strategies for these sectors. Belgian aid is aligned with these strategies.
In executing the projects Belgium aims at harmonisation with other donors, especially with the Danish and Luxembourg agencies. Also ownership is an important point of attention. More and more, the institutions from Niger are themselves responsible for determining the strategy and for the execution of the activities.