One year ago, I touched down at Diori Hamani International Airport, enthusiastic to begin my service as U.S. Ambassador to Niger. It’s been a remarkable year, as I have been continually impressed by the many Nigeriens who are eager to partner with the United States. One question that I’m often asked during our work together is, “What do you think is the future of Niger?”
Here is my answer: Le Niger se lève! This is a phrase we use at the Embassy and you will hear it more from us in the year ahead. We believe that Niger is on the rise in terms of good governance, development, and security. Moreover, we are pleased to assist with many initiatives that are helping to advance a greater future.
I am pleased to offer several examples of the work we have done with our partners in 2018 – all of which support our saying, Le Niger se lève!
- With our Nigerien partners, we launched the $437 million Millennium Challenge Compact, which will improve millions of lives through better access to water, advances in agricultural practices, and improvement in roads for market access.
- With an investment of more than $155 million, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported programs for improved agricultural production; food security; humanitarian assistance; better health care; advancing democracy, human rights, and good governance; conflict prevention and management; education; and economic growth.
- Through the S. President’s Malaria Initiative, which each year donates $18 million to Niger for malaria prevention and treatment, we supported the launch of the campaign, “Zéro Palu! Je m’engage” (“Zero Malaria! It Starts with Me!”) to eradicate malaria across Africa by 2030.
- With the Nigeriens Feeding Nigeriens High Commissioner, we signed mid-year the Declaration of Partnership for Food Security under the Feed the Future Initiative that will build resilience so Niger’s communities can accelerate progress in reducing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition.
- Under the 12/12 Alliance, USAID began partnering with Airtel, Lutheran World Relief, Ecobank, Société Henri Biaugeaud, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, and others to promote market-driven investments in agriculture, strengthen farmer associations in Tahoua and Maradi, introduce mobile information sharing platforms, and help the private sector meet business objectives.
- With our Security Governance Initiative, we have made progress as Nigerien and U.S. partners strengthen the capacity of Niger’s Defense and Security Forces (FDS) in the areas of strategic planning, management of human and material resources, and communication with the public. We developed a strategic planning body for the FDS and instituted an array of reforms in such areas as promotions and evaluation of performance.
- Through the Department of Defense and Department of State, we partnered on flagship security-enhancing programs for aviation capacity building, intelligence and surveillance, logistics and maintenance capacity building, training and professionalizing the Nigerien Armed Forces, and enhancing police and law enforcement.
- In coordination with Special Operations Command Africa, we coordinated the largest Flintlock military exercise to date, with 25 participating countries, including seminars for senior leadership and the first Women, Peace, and Security conference.
- Our public affairs section trained bloggers and journalists, engaged hundreds of girls in our soccer and leadership initiatives, helped women professionals, and sent young people and professionals to the United States on nearly 100 exchanges.
These highlights provide a sense of what has happened over the past year and why we remain optimistic. While there are still many challenges ahead, we join with Nigeriens in wanting to see a more prosperous future. As strong partners, we are closer to achieving these goals and able to do more together than apart.
As I start my second year, I look forward to further strengthening the bond between the Nigerien and American people. Together, we can continue to say, “Le Niger se lève!”