Germany’s engagement in the north of the Republic of the Niger is an excellent example of crisis prevention. The Federal Foreign Office has been promoting preventive peace work in the country together with CARE Deutschland and local partners since 2012. This project is geared towards, for example, former fighters and young people in a number of different phases, while instruments such as peace forums and vocational training programmes aim to reduce conflict potential in the long term.
Heightened instability in one of the world’s poorest countries
The Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. Located in a region of West Africa that has grappled with armed conflict and a high level of instability for years, the country – like other parts of the Sahel – is increasingly becoming a haven for terrorist groups. Great challenges facing efforts to achieve stability in the country include, in particular, the north of the country, which is cut off from international aid, and refugee flows from Mali and the Central African Republic.
Long-term work with experienced partners in the region
Since 2012, the Federal Foreign Office has spearheaded a project promoting preventive peace work in the Niger together with the organisation CARE Deutschland and the Nigerian NGO HED Tamat (Homme Environnement Développement). The first phase of the project in 2012 focused on peace work with former fighters and returnees, as well as efforts to prevent the formation of gangs in the north of the Republic of the Niger. The second phase, completed at the end of 2014, was geared primarily towards the Niger’s younger generation, while the third phase of the project, which commenced on 1 January 2015, focuses on relations between citizens and the state.
Existing conflict potential is reduced with discussion forums, cultural events and programmes with a focus on improving schooling and vocational education. For instance, communities are able to select 20 young men and women for a brief period of vocational training. The peace forums hosted by HED Tamat, which take place in most parts of the Agadez region in the north of the Niger, are also particularly worthy of mention. These events not only offer citizens the opportunity to discuss preventive peace work among themselves, but also provide scope for an invaluable dialogue between citizens and representatives of the Niger.