AAP pilot projects in Niger chart a path to resilience
Niger ranks among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. People here have already noticed a shortening of the rainy season and higher average temperatures. These changes are resulting in smaller yields in the most widely cultivated and consumed crops.
In Niger, the National Adaptation Programme of Action identified 14 adaptation opportunities in areas such as agriculture, livestock, environmental management, income generation and energy production. In regions of the country identified as vulnerable, villages were selected to host pilot projects related to these adaptation opportunities. The pilot projects, founded by the AAP, involve work related to livestock feed-banks, crop storage facilities, land restoration programmes, income generating activities, distribution of improved cooking stoves and solar power generation.
‘The aim of this programme is to strengthen Niger’s capacity to address climate change,’ says AAP Niger National Director Moussa Gousmane. ‘We have set up micro-projects that are being implemented by NGOs selected through tenders and run with the support of United Nations Volunteers. These projects address local populations’ needs.’
In Issari, in the Diffa district of eastern Niger, the AAP established a livestock feeding bank, which stores cheap stock feed to help graziers contend with the lack of pasture during the dry season. The bank has helped graziers continue raising livestock in the region.
In Soudouré in Tillabéry region the AAP is supporting women's groups to undertake small-scale fruit and vegetable farming. ‘The women have managed to cover their households’ expenses without being dependent on their husbands,’ explains Moussa.
In other villages the programme has funded the installation of photovoltaic systems to generate power for local households.
Moussa says the need to respond to lower crop yields and the loss of vegetation in many areas of Niger has spurred the affected populations to participate in activities aimed at building resilience to climate change.
‘The projects we have set up in the villages targeted by the programme have contributed to alleviating the impacts of climate change,’ says Moussa. ‘One just needs to take a walk in these villages to see the people’s enthusiasm for the programme’s activities.’
Moussa says that in its three years of operation the AAP has assisted more than 20,000 people through the pilot projects. ‘Yet these represent just a sample of the Nigerien population affected by climate change.’
The challenge now is to take the examples and the learning offered by the AAP’s pilot projects and apply them throughout the vulnerable regions of Niger.
‘The country needs to strengthen its capacity to fight climate change. It is now in a better position to do that thanks to the AAP’s work and the impact it has had on several sectors,’ says Moussa.
Djibril Saidou is a journalist with the African Press Agency in Niger and was a participant in the AAP Media Capacity Building Project’s training of climate journalism trainers in Nairobi earlier this year.