What effects of climate change are you noticing on the ground?
Over the last ten years, we have noticed that the seasons have changed a lot; rainfall is more intense and leads to flooding, but the rains often do not last. They often start later and sometimes earlier than the year before. These changes make it very difficult for the communities to plan the agricultural season. This year, a severe lack of rain destroyed a large part of our yields: The rains, which normally last from July to October, suddenly stopped in August. The lack of water results in harvest losses of up to 80%. How will farmer families feed themselves after this meager harvest is used up?
What is your view on the ongoing negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, most of which are caused by the industrialized countries of the North?
For us, it is important that Niger show solidarity and stand behind the African position on the issues at stake at the COP 26. We are asking for support for the implementation of a National Council for Sustainable Development that would, among other things, coordinate the approach to climate change, and we are advocating for funding for our climate investment plan for the entire Sahel region. Finally, we need financial support to implement the Great Green Wall initiative in Niger. This initiative aims to halt the advance of desertification and address the challenges faced by the people of the Sahel and Sahara. In Niger, financial resources should be provided by the government so that our people can implement projects against climate change. An important point would be to invest in agroecology, a type of agriculture adapted to climate risks and able to withstand the changes. This technique will allow us to strengthen our natural resources, to develop local plant and animal species adapted to these difficult conditions and to rely on a diversified production rather than depend on only one or two crops to nourish our families and supply the regional markets.
What actions would you recommend to governments and industry in the North?
I would recommend reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in line with the various conventions and agreements. The use of fossil fuels and their subsidies should be stopped, and we should switch to low-carbon technologies. Likewise, it would be very important to keep the promise to spend $100 billion, focusing on climate change adaptation for nature and people.
What do you expect from your government in Niger?
We support the establishment of a national climate fund to support the population and especially those most vulnerable to climate change. Agricultural policies and programs should focus on agroecology. Furthermore, the effective participation of youth and women in climate projects should be supported. Women because they are the main producers and they feed the families, and young people because the next generation needs to be motivated to engage in agriculture. In general, the Nigerien population should be made more aware of climate change; information in schools should be promoted, as well as information for farmers and in households.
What measures are you taking at your level?
With SWISSAID, we are raising awareness of the climate among the rural population as much as possible. We are strengthening the adaptability of farming families to times of crisis. We also advocate for policies that consider the challenges of sustainable development in the various sectors and programs that are implemented here in Niger. Finally, we are investing funds in the rediscovery and promotion of old and somewhat forgotten crop varieties that are more resistant to severe weather, water shortages, pests and diseases to ensure food and nutrition security for the population.