Niger: US $62 million ADF funding for the development of Niger Valley ecosystems

Tunis, 29 October 2008 - The African Development Fund (ADF), the concessionary window of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, has approved a combined loan and grant of 40 million Units of Account (UA*), equivalent to US$ 62 million, to finance the Kandadji Ecosystems Regeneration and the Niger Valley Development programme (KERNVDP).

The loan and grant of UA 20 Million (US$31 million) each were approved by the ADF Board on Wednesday in Tunis, to help provide solutions to the recurrent drought in Niger and the degradation of natural resources by regenerating the riverine ecosystems and boosting agricultural production with poverty reduction as the ultimate goal.

It involves construction of a 1.6 billion cubic metre dam for regulating the flow of the Niger River in order to provide the water needed for irrigation and other essential uses (drinking water supply, sanitation, ecology, improved flood recession cropping, grazing and fishery) and electricity as a by-product that will make the structure as profitable as possible. The project will restore the river valley ecosystems, irrigate 122,000 hectares and produce 629 Gwh of electricity per year, on completion.

The project is expected to:

- Improve agricultural and animal production capacity, access to electricity and water, improve the living environment and life expectancy;

- Enhance the economic capacity of the grassroots communities, better living conditions for the vulnerable groups, and gender mainstreaming into the planning of activities, in collaboration with the Gender Equity Project;

- Create conditions that help to reduce climate risks and promote adaptation to climate change.

The core programme area is the Niger River Valley, with some 2.6 million inhabitants, including 1.32 million women. It covers Tillabéri Region, the Niamey Urban Community and Rosso Region, where climate changes in the Sahel produce recurrent droughts that affect water resources and the socio-economic conditions of the population which is mainly engaged in agriculture, stockbreeding and handicrafts production. The KERNVDP is expected to help improve the food and nutrition status of the target communities and broaden access to water and energy. The programme will also alleviate the hardship associated with lack of water during the dry season, as well as emigration which affects 48% of households. Furthermore, the Programme will contribute to the implementation of the National Action Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change.

At the regional level, the programme is a priority for the Niger Basin Commission's Investment Programme for 2008-2012, which the Conference of Heads of State of the Niger Basin Authority approved in April 2008. It is consistent with the accelerated development strategy as well as the Results Based Country Strategy Paper for 2005-2009, which focuses on support to rural development through harnessing water resources and the reinforcement of infrastructure. The programme is also in line with the options defined in the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), particularly the reinforcement of rural infrastructure and harnessing of water resources for agriculture.

The programme's first phase is estimated to cost approximately UA 186.23 million, about 56% of the overall estimated cost of UA 333.82 (CFAF 232.52 billion). The Bank is leading several donors funding the project. The ADF contribution will cover part of the construction costs of the dam while the grant will cover part of the works control costs as well as the components relating to "Implementation of Environmental and Social Plans" and "Programme Management".

The Bank Group started operations in Niger in 1970. To date, the institution's cumulative commitment in the country stands at US$524.7 million for 62 operations.