UN development chief says conflict often driven by poverty

18 Feb 2012

Agadez - On the last day of her visit to Niger, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark traveled to the ancient city of Agadez where armed rebellions in the 1990s led to a period marked by violence and instability, resulting in increased poverty and vulnerability for the population.  Agadez is also a transit point for migrants returning from Libya to countries in the region following the uprising in 2011.

While in Agadez, she met with people participating in community-supported UNDP projects designed to reintegrate ex-combatants, demine neighborhoods, support livelihoods, and rehabilitate a degraded environment. 

“UNDP supports projects in this region in ways that help maintain peace and also help people develop their livelihoods,” said Helen Clark. “Beneath every conflict often lies a problem of poverty, lack of opportunity, and frustration of youth who don’t see their aspirations fulfilled.  The government’s emphasis on youth is very important because if youth have access to education, skills and a way to make a living, then they can be supporting their communities in a constructive way.”

Helen Clark was on a joint mission with Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos to raise awareness of the looming food crisis in the Sahel and to build the foundations of an integrated regional approach between emergency and development.

One third of Nigeriens suffer from food insecurity and 330,000 children under five are at risk of severe acute malnutrition because of last year’s poor harvest and high food prices.  More than one million children under five are at risk in the region.