EU supports Nigerien communities and regions in managing migration
The European Union, through the EU Trust Fund for Africa, and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) co-finance a project in Niger which helps local authorities identify development and infrastructure measures and strengthen their capacity to better address the consequences of migration. More than 150 000 people will benefit from better access to basic services which will also create 1 500 jobs.
Launched in 2017, with a budget of EUR 28.5 million, the project "Programme: Améliorer la gestion des défis migratoires" (ProGEM) has been cooperating with 20 local authorities along the main migratory routes.
The city of Agadez is a transit route for passing migrants and hosts at the same time young Nigeriens who are looking for a job as well as returning migrants from countries such as Algeria or Libya. More than 300,000 people pass through Agadez every year.
There are considerable social, economic and administrative challenges. According to the vice-president of Agadez Regional Council, Aklou Sidi Sidi, "the demand for water, medical care, education and sanitation is high and continuing to rise. This is one of the main consequences of the migration we are faced with here in Agadez, in the north of the country". Unemployment drives young Nigeriens to migrate or get involved in smuggling activities. "The key is economic development and job creation in our towns", Mr Aklou stresses.
"ProGEM is always there to help. It helps us develop our own expertise and draw up and implement appropriate measures, both social and in terms of infrastructure", says Mr Alhousseini Hamodi, the mayor of Tchintabaraden district.
Thanks to ProGEM the municipality could identify the most affected areas. And the project is currently building and extending 10 healthcare centres and hospitals, 10 drinking water supply systems and standpipe networks, 5 markets and commercial infrastructures, 15 toilet blocks and 11 classrooms in the regions of Agadez, Tahoua and Zinder.
The EU's engagement on the ground, in close cooperation with the Nigerien authorities, further includes the fight against smuggling and trafficking networks – through the civilian CSDP mission EUCAP Sahel Niger – as well as the creation of viable and legal economic alternatives for people whose livelihoods were previously relying on trafficking activities.
High Representative / Vice-President Federica Mogherini stressed that "we continue working to save lives, provide safe and dignified returns and legal avenues, and tackle the root causes of migration, by creating jobs and growth."
The EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, under which EUR 266 million have been committed in Niger, plays a vital role: providing sustainable employment opportunities for young people is key to tackle the root causes of irregular migration. And the EU also works closely with the UNHCR resettlement scheme to provide life-saving assistance and sustainable solutions for the most vulnerable people in need of international protection.