Development is the only way to stop migration, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger said at a recent meeting with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva.
A statement by the UN food agency said in talks focused on the importance of tackling the root causes that lead to distress migration – a great challenge in the Sahel region – President Issoufou stressed the need for more funding to boost youth employment and rural development.
The FAO Director-General informed President Issoufou about FAO and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) joint efforts as 2018 co-chairs of the Global Migration Group to mainstream a development approach in global initiatives on migration, highlighting the importance of agricultural and rural development.
Graziano da Silva stressed that migration requires a comprehensive and integrated approach, which takes into account the many factors that impact migration, including agricultural and rural dimensions.
For his part, President Issoufou noted the close linkages between terrorism, food security and natural resources management, and highlighted the various examples existing in the Sahel regional. He also emphasized the links between poverty, migration and lack of democracy, and called on all countries to work together to stop distress migration.
At the meeting, President Issoufou thanked FAO’s support to the country’s programme to increase food security and build agricultural capabilities (3N Initiative – Les Nigériens nourrissent les Nigériens – Nigeriens feed Nigeriens), and to the implementation of its national rural development policy.
“The aim is to prevent drought from turning into hunger and famine, achieving Zero Hunger and fighting poverty, which affects 3 out of every 4 rural people,” President Issoufou said in remarks following the meeting.
FAO’s Director-General congratulated Niger’s Government for its focus on food security. Describing it as “a comprehensive programme that addresses hunger, food insecurity, malnutrition and resilience,” Graziano da Silva praised the 3N Initiative, stressing the similarities with the Brazilian Zero Hunger programme.
Graziano da Silva also noted the importance of strengthening water storage systems and invited President Issoufou to the inauguration of the “1 Million Cisterns for the Sahel” programme, aimed at promoting and facilitating the introduction of rainwater harvesting and storage systems for vulnerable communities, especially women.
The objective is to enable millions of people in the Sahel to have access to safe drinking water, enhance their family agricultural production to create a surplus, improve their food and nutrition security and strengthen their resilience in the face of climate change.