In Niger, a rare scene in the pandemic: Covid-19 wards remain empty, agriculture and business benefit from support programs
Looking over his hectares of rice in Saga, less than 10 minutes from central Niamey, Garba Soumana's face is radiant. A gust of wind from the Niger River drowns out his voice, but in no way diminishes his joy. "Thank you, Lord. God is great," he exclaims. "This is such an achievement, like a thorn taken out of your foot," he says, again and again, gazing over his vast green expanse.
Just like Garba Soumana, thousands of Nigerien producers have the comfort of knowing that they will have the seeds they need for the next planting season, in June and July, thanks to support from the African Development Bank to help Niger with its country-wide response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition to budget support of more than $100 million, the Bank is also providing funding to low-income member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including more than $4 million for Niger. The Bank also provided $22 million to help the G5 Sahel countries combat the pandemic.
In this Sahelian country, exceptionally vulnerable to cyclical droughts and climate change, access to seed enhances food security and helps to prevent the health crisis from turning into a food crisis. In Niger, food security is linked to social and political stability.
"The Bank's support has been particularly important for this country that is already suffering under triple climate, humanitarian and security shocks," said Nouridine Kane Dia, the Bank's country manager for Niger.