NIAMEY, December 3, 2021 – A new World Bank report highlights significant poverty reduction in Niger between 2014 and 2019. During this period, the proportion of the population living in poverty declined by 5.4 percentage points, falling to 40.8% in 2019. In addition, the poorest households benefited from more equitable growth. This progress is attributable to robust growth in the agricultural sector, which climbed to an annual average of 7%, owing to favorable weather conditions and the expansion of cropland.
The COVID-19 pandemic has, unfortunately, undermined the progress made in combating poverty, pushing an additional 270,000 persons into poverty and exacerbating gender inequalities. Furthermore, the catastrophic floods that affected virtually every region in 2020 plunged Niger into a humanitarian crisis, resulting in high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.
The economic recovery in 2022 should, however, allow Niger to once again make progress with poverty reduction. “The Nigerien economy has demonstrated its resilience to a host of shocks, registering growth over several years, despite the challenging situation facing the country,” said Joelle Dehasse, World Bank Country Manager for Niger. “It is important to focus on transformative and sustainable interventions that promote genuine equity and create opportunities for all, so that poverty can be eradicated once and for all.”
The report recommends implementation of a set of ambitious reforms in agriculture and the rural economy, as well as the empowerment of women and girls. “Sustainable poverty reduction in Niger calls for sound investment in human capital, the agricultural sector, and the rural economy,” said Johan A. Mistiaen, World Bank Practice Manager for Poverty and Equity in Western and Central Africa. “To be effective, these interventions must be accompanied by improvements in governance and the security situation.”
Niger should also establish a well-targeted and adaptive national social protection system in order to effectively curb the negative impact of shocks on households. “Appropriate social safety net programs can strengthen economic inclusion and resilience. These programs offer great potential in terms of protecting and promoting livelihoods,” added Aboudrahyme Savadogo, World Bank Economist in the Poverty and Equity Global Practice.