Niger: UNDP boosts livelihoods for women and girls
About 1,200 conflict-affected women and girls in northern Niger are benefiting from an economic recovery assistance programme that will also promote cooperation among previously conflicting communities.
Several training sessions involving these women took place in Agadez and Tahoua, North-East of Niamey. The region suffers from both political instability and inequality between men and women. Many of the targeted women are disenfranchised, widowed, displaced or injured. Some have been the victims of rape. These women are for the first time being involved in productive activities.
With a UNDP contribution of US$120,000, the women received cheques and training on setting up small businesses and designing strategies for reinsertion and building livelihoods. Working with 48 cooperatives of 25, the women are working on income-generating projects, including in the agriculture sector where they will be encouraged to grow their own food.
In spite of Niger’s 1995 Peace Agreement, tensions still persist in the northern Aïr and Azawak regions. These low intensity conflicts have taken a heavy toll on women, as demonstrated by a recent UNDP report which found that women and girls in those regions suffered from various forms of physical and mental abuse.
Since 2006 UNDP, in collaboration with UN Volunteers, has been working on reintegrating 3,160 ex-combatants from the region. Since women have been disproportionately affected by the conflicts, the organization is working with the Niger High Commissariat for the Restoration of Peace to include women in the peace process. Thus, these women’s cooperatives will be essential in boosting livelihoods and bringing communities closer to one another.
In the initial stage, the project will focus on women who suffer from prejudice and war-related trauma.
UNDP’s Peace Consolidation Programme has become the main instrument for conflict prevention and disaster risk reduction efforts in Niger. The programme is now setting the example for further government and NGO initiatives in Niger.
Initiated by UNDP in 2006, the Peace Consolidation Project in Air and Azawak (PCPAA) became active after the different armed groups of Niger signed a series of peace agreements in 1995. UNDP was able to mobilize additional funds from national and multilateral partners including the Government of Niger, France, the United States and Libya.
The PCPAA is implemented by United Nations Volunteers (UNV) together with Niger’s High Commissariat for the Restoration of Peace and Ministry of Territorial Administration and Community Development.