By Kiflemariam Amdemariam
I attended an inspiring session at Rio+20 on the Nigerien government’s implementation of Agenda 21 from the 1992 Earth Summit. H.E. Issoufou Issaka, the Minister for the Environment, conveyed with great conviction the commitment of the Nigerien government to change and sustainable development.
The event was mainly focussed on the government led 3N initiative – Nigeriens Nourish Nigeriens – aimed at improving production and securing livelihoods, particularly in rural areas through a bottom up, grass roots planning approach, with a high level of political commitment, and a focus on women and small holder farmers. The 5 programmes which are part of the initiative are vital for enhancing food and nutrition security, and also help to ground and guide civil society organization and Red Cross Red Crescent programmes aimed at addressing immediate challenges and building more resilient communities.
A presentation on the implementation of Agenda 21 in Keiti, which included vegetable gardening, small scale irrigation, tree plantation and water harvesting, highlighted the fact that sustainability is not only possible, but achievable through an integarated approach.
The 3N initiative is a good demonstration of the many ways authorities can make positive change and work in collaboration with others to improve the lives of vulnerable people and communities. The initiative was given vocal support by speakers from from UNDP, WFP, the Brazilian government, UNHLTF and other regional bodies.
If the financing mechanism can be put in place, and the political will marshalled, this move towards a comprehensive approach would enable the country to emerge from its current – and recurring – food and nutrition crisis, and foster real sustainable development in Niger.