I had the opportunity to be in Niger, a few months back, before COVID-19 limited our travels.
It is a beautiful land with amazing humans. I left the land with few memories, and also a decision to expand work in the country, on climate change, sustainable development, law and policy.
While I struggle to finish the research paper that I am working on, which focuses on identifying the entry points for developing a National Adaptation Plan for Niger, I wanted to write a these few thoughts to remind myself of the beauty that the country holds.
Niger is a country in the Africa, which consists of 17.7 millions inhabitants. 80% of the population live in the rural areas while 20% in the urban. As per national data, the country has a population growth rate: 3,9% and a GDP of US$6,303.5 million (as of 2015,).
Niger is a Sahelian country, and 75% of the country’s area is situated in the desert zone. It is also one of the world’s poorest countries, and remains ranked low in the Human Development Index.(Niger was ranked 189th out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index in 2017.)
Agriculture accounts for 43.4% of the country’s gross domestic product (2018) and is the most important sector of Niger’s economy. It remains the main source of livelihood for rural communities, with 85% of employment depending on it. Due to this reason, country is highly vulnerable to climate impacts, and has suffered losses worth millions of dollars due to droughts and floods.
Now to a few unforgettable aspects of Niger:
Meet two of my favourites from Niger, Issa and Sani (and me of course, struggling to take a photo of all of us in the frame,) two individuals working on climate change and sustainable development.
It would not be wrong to say that Issa was my window to Niger, providing me an introduction to his country, over a decade ago. I have always been interested in the work he and his colleagues do with the aim of achieving climate resilience, engaging youth in decision making processes, and also working towards achieving sustainable development participatory and inclusive processes.
Issa and Sani work with many stakeholders, including the policy makers, civil society organisations, communities, youth and children, to make change possible.
The country holds amazing beauty. In the 24 hours I spent there, which consisted mostly at a workshop, then a ministry getting my passport which was handed over at the airport to the authorities, as well as travelling from hotel to meeting venues, I was still able to see a few amazing locations. What blew me away the most was the beauty of the sand dunes, situated about one hour away from Niamey, and the warmth of the local communities I met.
Evidently, I could not separate the beauty from its people. The children who engaged with me, and welcomed me as one of their own. The sand dunes that are mesmerising, and made me out of breath (not only due to all the walking) especially at sunset.
Building Climate Resilience & Achieving Sustainable Development
One more reason that I feel connected to the country, is the work that I do focusing on, and in Niger.
As a Least Developed Country (LDC) that is highly vulnerable to climate change, Niger is also among the countries that are in the process of developing their National Adaptation Plan. Focusing on building resilience of the country’s peoples and ecosystems to climate threats, inclusive and participatory sustainable development remains vital for Niger. And, it has been eye-opening to meet those who work on these processes, as well as to contribute through technical expertise to their work, and to share experiences and lessons learnt in our work, with them.
As I sign off, I am sharing this photo of me in Niamey, (since my attempt to upload a video on the same rooftop turned out to be futile).
I do not get to write much, most of the time. Or, I just end up typing reports that I do not publish often on the blog regularly. But, I try.