The 2020-2021 local and national elections are the third time since 2011 that citizens are democratically electing new leaders, and the first that power will pass peacefully via elections from one civilian president to the next. The elections are however taking place amid widespread insecurity. Niger faces persistent threats from foreign-based jihadist groups, including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and The Islamic State in West Africa, as well as community-based conflicts.
Since Niger’s return to democratic rule in 2011, the United States has been supporting efforts to improve governance, increase transparency, fight corruption, expand civil liberties, and build Nigeriens’ resilience to violent extremism. In addition to supporting democratic values, practices, and institutions USAID is helping the Nigerien government to: provide quality public services to its citizens; accelerate the pace of ongoing reform; and strengthen the ability of local governments to answer citizens needs and concerns.
Democratic Institutions Provide for Free and Fair Elections
Ahead of the 2020-2021 local, parliamentary and presidential elections, USAID supported preparations for a peaceful democratic transition, expected to be the first-ever power handover from an elected civilian regime to another. USAID supported political consensus on a revised electoral code and procedures, capacity building of political parties, prevention of electoral disputes and electoral violence, voter education, as well as capacity building for the national election commission on administration and strategic planning.
Government Institutions are more Transparent, Accountable, and Responsive to Citizen Needs
To improve people’s and communities’ ability to enact change and demand more responsive governance, USAID focuses on citizen mobilization, advocacy, and dialogue with the government. USAID also works with government agencies to transfer planning, resource allocation, and management responsibilities to the local government levels. In order to ensure that policies and reforms are inclusive and reflect the needs of all Nigeriens, USAID supports non-governmental actors to better communicate their priorities.
As part of its regional resilience strengthening program, USAID is assisting local governments to build and improve their disaster risk reduction and natural resource management capacities.
USAID is expanding women’s participation in local decision-making. It also supports partnerships that can improve gender-responsive service delivery in areas affected by violence and insecurity.
Respect for Justice, Fundamental Human Rights, and Civil Liberties
USAID is helping the people of Niger to know their rights and have better access to justice. This includes engagement with customary conflict mediation mechanisms and the formal justice system to resolve disputes, allowing citizens and communities to peacefully resolve conflicts, settle long-standing grievances or address human rights violations. Especially in areas prone to violent extremism, this is critical to slow the spread of radicalism and violent conflicts.
Collaboration to Reduce Vulnerability to Violent Extremism
With a view to improving the security of communities in areas affected by conflict, USAID brings together local influencers, opinion leaders, government security forces, and citizens. It then helps these varied actors to peacefully communicate and address ongoing sources of tension.
At the national level, USAID assisted the Nigerien government in developing its first national strategy for countering violent extremism and developing solutions to improve security and reduce conflicts. To reduce the risk of Nigerien youth being recruited by violent extremist groups, USAID is working with the government to increase youth participation in the country’s political and economic life and ensure access to justice in conflict zones.
Ensure more consensual, transparent and inclusive elections and political processes.
Improved responsiveness of the government to citizen needs in priority sectors.
Support for governance reforms and cross-sectoral collaboration in advancing resilience.
Increased capacity of citizens and non-governmental actors to take collective action.
Increased civic participation, specifically of youth,women and girls, in community governance.
Addressing drivers of violent extremism and supporting community peace building.