Niger

International donors conference on consolidating food self-sufficiency in Niger Doha (Qatar) 12-13 June 2007

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DONORS CONFERENCE FOR NIGER TO BE HELD IN JUNE

The OIC is organizing an international donors conference for Niger that will be held in Doha, Qatar on June 12-13, 2007. The conference aims to raise $300 million over a period of five years.

The aim of the Conference is mobilize additional resources in order to, on the one hand, prevent and manage food shortages and, on the other hand, tackle the structural causes of the food insecurity by restoring the environment and securing and intensifying agricultural production particularly by means of irrigation.

The Conference initiated by the OIC and the Government of Niger is being hosted by the State of Qatar.

OIC Assistant Secretary General, Atta El-Manan Bakhit, was in Niger and Qatar recently to discuss the final preparations for the conference, which is expected to be attended by countries, international organizations and specialized funds.

PREAMBLE

In Niger, ever since the 1980's, food inse-curity has taken on a chronic character and now affects over 24% of the rural population. This situation is in large part due to the conjunction of unfavorable climatic conditions and level of poverty affecting over 63% of the population. Finding solutions to this thorny issue still remains one of the major concerns of the Government.

That is why, securing sustainable food self-suf.ciency, features high on the agenda of the Strategy for Poverty Alleviation (SPA) as well as the Strategy for Rural Development (SRD), both of which were developed and adopted by the Government, as strategies aimed at creating better conditions for the wellbeing of Niger's populations. The two strategies are instrumental in the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 Horizon, which require enhanced co-operation with Development Partners and ambitious effort in the mobilization of resources.

Despite efforts deployed by the Government and its donors, the Technical and Financial Partners (TFP), the country was still unfor-tunately confronted in 2005 with a severely acute food crisis that saw a sharp decline in food crop volume and a dramatic deteriora-tion in the nutritional state of the population, particularly that of children.

The Government of Niger seized the opportunity provided by the 32nd Session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) held in Sana'a, Republic of Yemen, from 28 to 30 June 2005, to appraise Member States of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) on Niger's extremely dificult food situation and appeal to the OIC toconsider ways and means to bring about an effective mobilization of the Muslim Com-munity in favor of Niger's populations.

In this regard, His Excellency HAMA AMADOU, Prime Minister and Head of the Government of the Republic of Niger, addressed a letter dated 24 June 2005, to the Secretary General of the OIC, and requested the latter to use his good offices and influence"in order to establish a Special Emergency Assistance Fund for the Republic of Niger, with a view to enabling it to face the immediate and dramatic impact of the drought".

Following these events, the Ministerial Conference unanimously adopted Resolution No. 23/32-P, which "urged the international community, including the specialized agencies of the United Nations System, inter-national institutions, and the humanitarian bodies concerned, to provide the necessary support to help Niger face the current serious situation". In the same Resolution, the Conference "decided to set up a Special Emergency Fund at the OIC General Secre-tariat in order to collect, in keeping with the request of the Government of Niger, Member States' contributions ..."

During the 33rd Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (ICFM) held in Baku, in June 2006, the conference endorsed a proposal by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Niger and the Secretary General of the OIC to organize an International Donors' Conference. The State of Qatar proposed to host the Conference and the meeting "welcomed the generous offer by the State of Qatar to host an International Donors' Conference in Doha to establish the Strategic Food Reserve and appealed to the international community, as well as civil society and charitable institutions the world over to participate in this Donors' Conference and generously donate in favor of this humanitarian project" (Resolution 24/33-P).

Further to discussions between the Minis-ter of Foreign Affairs of Niger and the OIC Secretary-General, the necessity to expand the Special Fund's scope of intervention, beyond emergency assistance, was agreed upon in principle. The Emergency Special Fund's agenda was broadened to include supplementary programmes aimed at creat-ing the conditions for Sustainable food self-suf.ciency.

In order to take this new development into account, the Government of Niger, the Government of Qatar and the General Secretariat, identifed three main areas of intervention,as integral parts of the Strategy for Rural Development (SRD), and devised the corresponding programmes to be sub-mitted to the Doha Conference as follows:

- Programme for strengthening the national strategic food crop reserve

- Programme for the protection of the environment through rainwater retention aimed at increasing the water table level

- Programme for improving sustainable food production through the increase and development of irrigated land,