WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2016 — The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors held its quarterly meeting on June 20 and voted to approve the first-ever compact with the country of Niger. The $437 million Niger Sustainable Water and Agriculture Compact will strengthen Niger’s agricultural sector by improving water availability, roads and market access, and has the potential to benefit more than 3.9 million people.
“Most of Niger’s population relies on the agricultural sector for their livelihood, yet farmers do not have reliable access to water for agricultural use or to local and regional markets,” MCC CEO Dana J. Hyde said. “Through this compact, we are partnering with the Government of Niger to drive economic growth by improving access to water, services and markets – helping farmers and herders to produce and sell more products.”
The new compact includes investments in a sustainable water supply, new infrastructure, management of natural resources, and climate-resilient agricultural production, which will empower entrepreneurs and small business groups and strengthen market access. Through the compact’s two projects, the Irrigation and Market Access Project and the Climate-Resilient Communities Project, MCC will partner with the Government of Niger to:
- Improve irrigation, including the rehabilitation and development of three large-scale irrigation systems, to increase crop yields and improve sustainable fishing and livestock productivity;
- Upgrade road networks to significantly improve access to markets and services;
- Provide training to support farmers, especially women and youth;
- Establish market platforms to competitively position farmer groups in the marketplace;
- Reform policies and institutions, including the establishment of natural resource and land use management plans;
- Enable greater availability, affordability and application of fertilizers; and,
- Establish local capacities to sustainably use and maintain irrigation, road and market infrastructure.
In Niger, the agricultural sector employs more than 80 percent of the population and represents the second-largest export sector in the country.
In approving the compact, the Board reiterated its expectation that Niger – as with all MCC partner countries – maintain a commitment to good governance, which includes upholding democratic principles and respecting the rule of law.
The Board meeting also included discussion of MCC’s continued examination into the changing landscape of global poverty and a review of the closeout of MCC’s Moldova and Senegal compacts. Both compacts ended in September 2015. The Board reviewed how the geography of poverty has shifted toward middle-income countries, how donors are responding, and the emerging body of research that explores different ways of measuring and identifying poverty and what it might mean for MCC. Board members expressed their continued support for MCC to explore this issue further.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is an independent U.S. Government agency working to reduce global poverty through economic growth. Created in 2004, MCC provides time-limited grants and assistance to poor countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, from fighting corruption to respecting democratic rights. Learn more about MCC at www.mcc.gov.