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Results BriefsFebruary 26, 2024

Improving Access to Public Services and Economic Opportunities for Refugees, Internally Displaced People, and Host Communities Across Niger through Agility and Pragmatism

Niger: Improving Access to Public Services and Economic Opportunities for Refugees

Drinking water supply network with water tower and solar panels, serving 870 people in the village of Amatari, located in the commune of Diffa in the Diffa Region in Southeastern Niger.

Credits: PIU, Government of Niger

Key Highlights

  • Between 2018 and 2023, the Niger Refugees and Host Communities Support Project (PARCA) directly benefited over 1.12 million refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees, and host communities across its 1,185 geolocated project sites in 18 communes (of which the government of Niger and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] classify 11 as fragile) across five regions of Agadez, Diffa, Maradi, Tahoua, and Tillaberi. Of these, 275,930 are refugees (of whom 244,856  have improved access to public services, and 31,074 have improved access to economic opportunities); and over 331,000 are women (of whom over 297,000 have improved access to public services, and more than 34,000 have improved access to economic opportunities).
  • A total of 373,318 patients benefited from 20 newly constructed or renovated functional health centers; nearly 300,000 people benefited from 61 newly constructed or renovated functional water points; and close to 19,000 primary school students use the 148 newly constructed or renovated classrooms. 
  • PARCA supported newly constructed infrastructure or renovated 98 other functional infrastructures, including 23 commercial infrastructure works that support the local economy. For example, the Telemces cattle market helped revitalize the surrounding area and benefits 277,203 people. In addition, the 66.6 kilometers of road improvements between Taza and Tillia in the Tahoua region halved the overall travel time from eight hours to four hours between Tahoua city and Tillia. 
  • Income-generating activities improved the livelihoods of close to 78,000 beneficiaries (including 31,074 refugees and 34,245 women) through a training package and a one-time mobile cash transfer. For example, women in Diffa city doubled the value of corn in October 2022, which they purchased $32.70 per bag and sold as corn flour for $65.40 per bag. 
  • PARCA also strengthened local governance in 15 communes by integrating refugee and IDP needs into 15 annual municipal investment plans over the past five years.

Between 2019 and 2023, 1.12 million refugees, IDPs, and their host communities gained improved access to public services and economic opportunities thanks to the Niger Refugees and Host Communities Support Project (PARCA). PARCA operated in a very dynamic security context amidst the volatile, fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV)-affected environment of five regions: Agadez, Diffa, Maradi, Tahoua, and Tillaberi. The government of Niger and the UNHCR consider PARCA a viable mechanism to effectively address Niger's displacement needs, translating Niger’s policies into sustainable results for the displaced and returnees. In addition, PARCA has helped to stabilize some of Niger’s fragile areas through an enhanced presence of the state

Beneficiary Stories/Quotes

The little I get is for my children's future. If I may say so, we have had a very eventful life. And a lot of that is because we didn't have the education to deal with it. Now I take advantage of the school that is in the camp so that the children can get an education. That's the condition for success today.
Tahirou Lawan
Tahirou Lawan,
42, a Nigerian refugee in Camp Abardi on the outskirts of Diffa city, used part of the PARCA cash transfer to fatten goats, and the other part to buy sewing equipment for his wife to make clothes
In the beginning, I used to buy incense to resell and make a small profit. Now I produce the incense myself. My profits have almost doubled. This is important because I take care of all the expenses of the house.
Fanta Abba
Fanta Abba
45, a resident of Diffa city owns an incense business


The core development challenge was to ensure that refugees, internally displaced persons, as well as host communities—often located in fragile geographic areas—had access to improved basic services and economic opportunities. This effort faced a number of challenges in the complex context of Niger. According to UNHCR, escalating conflicts and deteriorating security situations increased the forcibly displaced population in the Sahel to 4.1 million people in 2022—up from 3.6 million at the end of 2021. This included 1.1 million refugees and asylum-seekers and 3 million IDPs. In Niger, the number of refugees, IDPs, and returnees has increased from 280,000 people in September 2018 to 705,968 in September 2023. Forced displacement also expanded geographically, affecting more Nigerien regions, such as the southern Maradi and Tahoua regions. Compounding the challenge of increased numbers of refugees and IDPs, these populations are not easy to reach, as they tend to move frequently due to changing security situations. As many refugees and IDPs live together with host communities, socioeconomic tensions may arise due to a lack of resources, services, and jobs. Finally, refugees, IDPs, and hosts in fragile areas need support tailored to a FCV environment.


Between 2018, when PARCA was launched, and 2023, when it closed, it sought to improve access to basic services and economic opportunities for refugees, IDPs, and host communities in a complex operational context. One component focused on rehabilitation or newly constructed community infrastructure to provide improved access to basic public services, such as education, health, water, and economic infrastructure, while another component supported economic opportunities through training and mobile cash transfers.

To meet these aims, PARCA was designed to take fragility, security dynamics, and frequently-moving beneficiaries as a given—not as a surprise. PARCA used the World Bank’s Geo-Enabled Monitoring and Evaluation System (GEMS) as a monitoring tool, as well as a proactive design and implementation tool. For example, GEMS enabled the identification of location, sector, and size of PARCA’s infrastructure investments and income-generating activities (IGAs), thus responding to local needs, and helping to safeguard the project against the possibility of influential stakeholders directing investments to meet their subjective interests. This also provided legitimacy to locally elected officials (such as mayors), with whom PARCA closely collaborated during project identification, specifically by justifying investment choices. GEMS also helped PARCA anticipate alternative project sites if growing insecurity and/or beneficiary movements prevented project completion at a selected site and necessitated a shift to another site. To ensure the sustainability of PARCA services, for each investment, the project required two upfront Memoranda of Understanding: one with the local government (LG), which was responsible for operating and maintaining (O&M) local buildings; and a second one with the sectoral ministries, responsible for providing services (such as doctors for health facilities and teachers for classrooms). To keep costs down and promote O&M, PARCA used Niger’s standard construction designs familiar to the local private sector. LGs were used to provide maintenance, and, where spare parts are available, to buy in the local market at local prices.

To utilize local expertise, as well as security and price information, PARCA also integrated security costs into private sector contracts and employed local private companies. PARCA used mobile money for secure cash transfers to beneficiaries for income generating activities. PARCA needed to be agile to address challenges. Therefore, it operated out of three implementation offices in three project regions, enhancing a closer connection to the project activities. PARCA also worked seamlessly with humanitarian and development actors, both at the strategic and the operational levels, to tap into their respective comparative advantages, such as those of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), UNHCR, and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). PARCA’s spatial approach supported all populations residing in its project sites, irrespective of their status (as refugees, IDPs, or hosts). As such, it enhanced people’s portable skills that they can use for economic opportunities, regardless of where they eventually settle.


Between 2018 and 2023, PARCA directly benefited over one million refugees, IDPs, returnees, and host communities across 1,185 geolocated project sites in 18 communes (of which 11 are classified as fragile by the government of Niger and UNHCR) across the five regions of Agadez, Diffa, Maradi, Tahoua, and Tillaberi. Of PARCA’s total direct beneficiaries, 869,094 people (including 244,856 refugees, and 297,305 women) have improved access to basic services, such as education, health, and water; a further 77,847 have improved access to economic opportunities. In addition, over 180,000 people benefited from capacity building and institutional development. Under PARCA, the local private sector used labor-intensive public works to rehabilitate, construct, and/or equip 328 functional community infrastructures. Thus, it met or even exceeded its original targets including the following:

  • 148 classrooms that benefit 8,880 primary school students per year. They can now learn in better equipped schools instead of make-shift conditions, or out in the open.
  • 20 health centers benefiting 373,318 patients.
  • 61 water points that benefit 298,261 people by providing direct access to drinking water, and by reducing the time and effort needed to fetch water from other localities more than an hour's walk and about six kilometers (km) away on average.
  • 98 other infrastructure installations, including 23 commercial infrastructure works that support the local economy. For example, the Telemces cattle market benefits 277,203 people. The project also helped to revitalize the surrounding area and boosted the own-source revenues of the LGs of rural Tillia. Tillia’s market tax increased by about 800 percent per week, according to the mayor, rising from around US$16 before the project to $1,160-1,490 after PARCA.
  • 66.6 kilometers of road between Taza and Tillia in the Tahoua region, which more than halved the overall travel time between Tahoua city and Tillia, that is, from eight hours to 3.5 hours.

Additionally, PARCA expanded access to economic opportunities for 77,847 beneficiaries (of whom 31,074 were refugees and 34,245 women) by first providing each beneficiary with three training courses, including the International Labour Organization (ILO) course, and the financial and life skills courses). They were then given mobile cash for IGA that the beneficiaries can chose for themselves, such as purchasing goods and equipment to upgrade local shops; the processing of agricultural raw materials into higher-value goods; the preparation and sale of incense; the sewing and sale of clothes; and fishing and fish sales. Political changes in July 2023 prevented the project from fully implementing all its activities. For example, not all of the 81,310 trained beneficiaries received their mobile cash due to a lack of security. Also, the remaining 2,190 beneficiaries (to reach the 83,500 target) could not be trained because the NGOs suspended their training activities due to security concerns.

  • 81,310 beneficiaries received a package of three trainings, including: the ILO curriculum, financial skills, and life skill training, which included 31,139 refugees and 35,483 women.
  • 77,847 beneficiaries (including 31,074 refugees and 34,245 women) received $200 equivalent per beneficiary for income generating activities (IGA). On average, household income increased by 6 percent driven by an 8 percent increase for the displaced; profits from existing non-farm businesses increased by 5 percent, and livestock ownership increased by 17 percent; displaced households increased their schooling expenses by 14 percent and their outstanding loans decreased by 58 percent. For instance, in Diffa city, women doubled the value of corn in October 2022, which they purchased for about $32.70 per bag and sold as corn flour $65.40 equivalent per bag.
  • Under the Niger Prevention and Resilience Allocation (PRA), PARCA contributed 13 percent toward helping 127,945 youth establish enterprises that develop agricultural value chains or other economic activities (corresponding to PRA’s Objective 1 on improving youth and women’s socioeconomic integration).

Finally, PARCA strengthened local governance by integrating refugee and IDP needs into 15 annual municipal investment plans over the past five years

We note that this reads quite internally facing still, including with discussion of targets - while we understand if the team prefers not to remove it at this point, a note that at least might inform future reference. It is quite rich in terms of the story of overall implementation, but we had some doubts about including this. Could consider for removal, but again, we understand if such a substantive change would be hard to make at this point.

Data Highlights

Component 1: Community infrastructure for improved access to basic public services

Niger: Improving Access to Public Services and Economic Opportunities
Beneficiaries with improved access to community infrastructure (thousands of persons), Source, PMU PARCA, 2023

Component 2: Support for economic opportunities

Niger: Improving Access to Public Services and Economic Opportunities

Niger: Improving Access to Public Services and Economic Opportunities

Bank Group Contribution

The total project costs were $73.79 million, including funds from IDA funds and from multiple Trust Funds. 

(1) The total IDA budget is $73.35 million, of which: (i) $ 1.04 million was spent on client support during project preparation, implementation, and closure; and (ii) $ 72.31 million which was spent on project implementation and closure for a total envelope of $80 million. The IDA18 Sub-Window for Refugees and Host Communities provided $50 million of the total, and the Risk Mitigation Regime provided $15 million .  

(2) Total Trust Fund contributions amounted to $440,000: 

i. Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Forced Displacement with $230,000 during 2022-2023 for an impact evaluation and a good practice note. 

ii. Rapid Social Response (RSR) 16 - Gender-Smart Social Protection Multi-Donor Trust Fund Window for $210,000 during 2019-2021, which was used to expand access to economic opportunities for refugee and host community women in Niger, creating a gender-informed mobile payment transfer system, as well as supervision and knowledge sharing.


PARCA is implemented by the government of Niger in partnership with the Executive Secretariat of the Strategy for the Development and Security of Sahelian-Saharan Areas of Niger (SDS). They work in close collaboration with the Ministries of Planning; Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Risk Management (monitoring the IDP situation); Interior and Decentralization (monitoring the refugee situation); humanitarian actors; and local NGOs. PARCA strengthened and put into action the coordination of the Humanitarian-Development NEXUS in Niger  with oversight by the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, working with: (i) the UNHCR to identify PARCA intervention sites, infrastructure investments, and beneficiaries for economic opportunities by sharing data pertaining to refugees and IDPs, confirming Niger's refugee protection framework, and through joint government of Niger-World Bank-UNHCR implementation support missions and a field presence for all PARCA activities; and (ii) ICRC regarding the implementation of specific water infrastructure works in the Diffa region. PARCA also worked with (iii) local NGOs for beneficiary mobilization and training for its income-generating activities; and (iv) the local private sector, including with construction firms for infrastructure investments and a local telecommunications operator for mobile cash transfers.

Looking Ahead

The sustainability of PARCA investments is bolstered by the fact that service delivery infrastructure that has been financed, such as classrooms, health care centers, and rural roads, is integrated into the regular service delivery package of the government of Niger. Secondly, if/when refugees and IDPs were to move elsewhere, service delivery is sustainable, as PARCA deliberately located infrastructure close to host communities who continue to benefit, with municipalities and line ministry operating and maintaining them. Support to the local economy is sustainable through the local markets constructed by PARCA. The sustainability of the economic opportunities for project beneficiaries is supported through the training package (including ILO micro-entrepreneurship, financial, and life skills) that each beneficiary received. Thus, PARCA focused on enhancing people’s portable skills for current and future opportunities, regardless of the place of their eventual settlement. Finally, the Niger project portfolio includes other projects that directly support stabilization, as well as service delivery activities in similar geographical areas, thereby building on PARCA’s demonstration effect. Financed by IDA, these engagements include the Learning Improvement for Results in Education Project (LIRE), and the Niger Accelerating Electricity Access Project (HASKE) for refugees. Likewise, IDPs are supported by LIRE, HASKE, the Niger Adaptive Safety Net Project (PFS), the Lake Chad Region Recovery and Development Project (PROLAC), and the Community-Based Recovery and Stabilization Project for the Sahel (PCRSS). In the near future, forced displacement in Niger is likely to remain a development issue that requires a dedicated focus. To that end, an integrative platform could be envisaged and proposed to the government. Such a program could support the operationalization of the government’s strategies for the “stabilization of fragile areas” and “durable solutions for IDPs” through a more systematic and sustainable response to forced displacement with transformative impacts across Niger’s territory. This could be achieved in partnership with humanitarian and development partners, such as the ICRC, UNHCR, and so on.