The Netherlands will be increasing its investment in sustainable development for Niger over the next several years. As part of this, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Sigrid Kaag is focusing on programmes that combat poverty and offer young people education and access to the job market.
The government will also support projects to help ensure safe and clean water, as well as initiatives that will help young entrepreneurs start businesses. The overall investment will total approximately €100 million over four years. 'We are trying in several different ways to offer the people in Niger, and young people in particular, a brighter future. We're doing that by tackling the root causes of poverty and inequality,' said Ms Kaag, who visited Niger this week for the first time.
The West African nation is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world. This increased focus on Niger is in keeping with the Netherlands' broader efforts in the Sahel region, aimed at conflict prevention, security and stability. The Netherlands is working closely in this regard with the UN, the EU and civil society organisations. Ms Kaag spoke with representatives of these parties and with Nigerien authorities, visited a post at the Burkina Faso border and an agricultural and water project, and met with young entrepreneurs.
The minister sees accessible professional education as an important weapon against youth unemployment. 'It gives young people control over their lives and offers them prospects for the future,' said Ms Kaag. 'Good education is also an effective tool for preventing child marriage and achieving progress in the area of sexual and reproductive health and rights.'
The minister also visited a reception centre operated by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), where she spoke with women migrants. The IOM helps returning African migrants, and particularly those who voluntarily return to their country of origin, often after having reached Libya or Algeria. The IOM offers psychosocial assistance to the many migrants who are traumatised, and conducts operations in the desert to rescue stranded migrants and provide them with shelter. Ms Kaag is supporting this work with a contribution of €12 million.