WASHINGTON, May 22, 2015 — The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors today approved the Population and Health Support Project to support the Government of Niger to improve delivery of reproductive health and nutrition services to women and children in some of Niger’s poorest regions. The project aims to benefit 15 million individuals, of which 60 percent will be women, who will have access to reproductive health services in order to reduce maternal mortality, infant mortality and the high fertility in this targeted regions.
The US$103 million International Development Association (IDA)* combined grant and credit approved today aims to improve access to reproductive health and nutrition services in five regions, Dosso, Maradi, Tahoua, Tillaberi and Zinder, where the majority of Niger’s population resides. The project will contribute to improving the provision of high quality reproductive, maternal, newborn and child, adolescent health and nutrition services, increase the demand for these health services. The project will boost the demand for reproductive health and increase the Ministry of Population and the Ministry of Health’s capacity to manage, coordinate, monitor and evaluate services in these remote and underserved communities.
Using an innovative approach, the project will address the demand and supply for improved health care. To contribute to increased demand, the project will support community dialogue, including men and women, health care workers and community leaders, on the benefits of reproductive and health care. Younger women will benefit from life skills and school support for girls’ empowerment activities to help address socio-cultural barriers impeding the use of reproductive health services. To help improve the supply of health care, other project supported activities will provide technical support and training for health personnel to improve their skills and knowledge, and funds to reimburse health care centers for services that poor families are unable to afford.
“This project’s multi-pronged approach to stimulating the demand for services can help women and adolescent girls to acquire the tools that help them have more control over their socioeconomic environment and the ability to make choices,” said Nestor Coffi, the World Bank Country Manager for Niger. “Improving health and nutrition and supporting capacity building of the Ministry of Health will lead to improvements in the cognitive development of children, educational achievement and economic productivity, contributing to the elimination of extreme poverty in Niger.”
The maternal mortality ratio in Niger, at 535 deaths per 100,000 births, is higher than in most other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. Niger’s fertility rate (now at 7.6 children per woman) has increased over the past five years and is the highest in the Sahel sub- region. Yet only 49 percent of the population has access to a health facility within five kilometers of their home. Lack of proper nutrition contributes to the high prevalence of stunting among children under-five, especially for those living in remote, rural communities.
“Women and children are at the core of a country’s current and future economic productivity,” said Djibrilla Karamoko, the World Bank Task Team Leader for this Project. “This project will give priority to the worst-off regions in Niger and benefit women and children, both of which will contribute to reducing geographical, socioeconomic, and gender inequities, helping poor families to lift themselves out of poverty and to contribute to Niger’s overall economic growth.”
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 77 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change for 2.8 billion people living on less than $2 a day. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 112 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 50 percent going to Africa.