A meeting of the Sahel Alliance-Niger members took place on Wednesday 2 February 2022 under the joint chairmanship of Her Excellency Ms Nuria de Reigosa González, Ambassador of Spain to Niger and Ms Joelle Dehasse, World Bank (WB) Resident Representative in Niger. This meeting of the Sahel Alliance – Niger members is the first since Spain and the World Bank were appointed as the two entities representing the Niger Alliance; it also coincides with the presence of two senior officials from the Spanish Cooperation (AECID) and the WB in Niger: Mr Antón Leis, Director of the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and Ms Clara de Sousa, Director of the WB’s Sahel Operations. They both took part in the meeting aimed at presenting the priorities of the Presidency of the General Assembly to the SA members in Niger, and to exchange on the Sahel Alliance-Niger’s priorities and actions.
Her Excellency Nuria de Reigosa González recalled in her introductory remarks that this meeting will provide an opportunity for the AECID Director to present the priorities of the presidency of the General Assembly to the SA members in Niger and to discuss the actions and priorities to be implemented in Niger under this mandate. In his address, AECID Director Anton Leis Garcia outlined in greater detail the priorities of the Spanish presidency of the SA General Assembly, emphasising the importance and role of the SA in a context of insecurity, particularly in Niger. Priority issues for AECID include women’s advancement and leadership, gender, sustainability and visibility of actions, education and training especially for young people in Niger where the youth accounts for 50% of the population.
During their mandate as spokespersons, the action of Spain and the WB will aim, among other things, at enhancing coordination with the other pillars within the Sahel coalition, strengthening the dialogue between the SA and local authorities in the priority areas (Tahoua -Tillaberi) and implementing the ITA.
Partnership and coordination efforts to intervene in priority areas
Taking the floor next, the World Bank’s Director of Operations for the Sahel, Ms Clara De Souza, expressed her satisfaction with the quality of the partnership between the World Bank and Spain, as demonstrated by the Spanish Cooperation’s support to the World Bank in co-financing the Regional Support Project for the Sahel Irrigation Initiative (Projet d’Appui Régional à l’Initiative d’Irrigation au Sahel, PARIIS). She recalled that this partnership is a prime example of partnership and coordination efforts to intervene in priority areas and strengthen productivity, the presence of the State through its services, and economic opportunities that will allow for a better resilience and future for the beneficiaries.
She also reiterated the commitment of her institution, the World Bank, as the Lead of the Sahel Alliance’s Energy and Climate Clusters, to further support the coordination of Alliance members in these particular areas, with the aim of improving access to essential services and investments for the development and resilience of the populations of the G5 Sahel, and particularly in Niger.
Niger, first beneficiary country of the Sahel Alliance
Niger is the first beneficiary country with respect to amounts committed and appraised within the Sahel Alliance (27%). The results achieved in Niger are encouraging in priority sectors such as education, agriculture and food security, governance, energy, decentralisation and basic services. However, challenges remain, the most salient being insecurity, the food crisis, internally displaced persons, education, desertification, poor access to energy and poverty.
In terms of the priorities of the spokespersons’ mandate, the actions of the SA-Niger will aim to i) strengthen member coordination, ii) strengthen policy dialogue, iii) strengthen the SA’s involvement within pillar 4 of the Sahel Coalition, iv) improve the SA’s visibility on the ground.
These priorities will be implemented through an approach involving coordination meetings, policy dialogue and coherent interventions.
Before closing the meeting, Mrs Joelle thanked Mr Nouridine Kane Dia, AfDB Resident Representative, for the work he has accomplished as spokesperson for SA-Niger for a long while before handing over to Spain and the WB. She also revisited the important points listed during these exchanges that could serve as key messages and recalled the next steps of the Spokesperson’s mission:
- Revitalise the ITA through meetings with the leaders of each priority zone and the members working in these areas to agree on the modalities for operationalisation;
- Meet and share the conclusions of this meeting with the Prime Minister and the G5 Sahel lead Minister (Minister of Planning).